Tile of roof made in the shape of chrysanthemum is symbol of Japanese
Empress Komyo (701-760), the wife of Emperor Shomu (701-756), built the first Japanese national hospital, Seyakuin (施薬院) as well as the charity home for the poor, Hidenin (悲田院) in Nara. Japanese mythology tells Empress Komyo involved herself in treatments of patients. She did not limit the national hospital only to imperial family or aristocrats. Anybody sick despite their social class could use the hospital.
Legend has said that “one day, Empress Komyo was engaging in patients treatment in the national hospital. An old man with Hansen's disease came to her. Empress Komyo tried to clean his body, but she could not clean all pus from his wounds. Empress Komyo started to suck his pus with her mouth for cleaning. Suddenly the old leper changed his appearance. He was one of Buddha's messengers, Nyo-Rai. He told her Buddhism would protect her country and people so that her people would enjoy prosperity.”
The main statue of the worship is Eleven-headed Kannon
which is thought to be modeled after Empress Komyo. The mercy of the statue
shines through as her name Ko-myo means “light and brightness”.
“浴室 Karafuro”, an ancient bath building, with two bathrooms for steamed bath, |
was originally built by Empress Komyo and opened to the public.
Repair work was completed after being dismantled half in July, 2003.
|image via Wikipedia|
Here you are at Karaku-en Garden, one of the two gardens of Hokke-ji Temple, on the east side of the precinct.
There are about one hundred camellias and various many other plants blooming from season to season.
I felt that the garden was more like British cottage garden than traditional Japanese one.
|万作 Hamamelis japonica, or Japanese witch hazel|
Leaving Karaku-en, now it feels like something traditional Japanese with thatched roof, moss, maple trees, a stone lantern, Japanese roof tiles, and so on.
|Genpei Peach, 源平桃|
In the overcast morning on weekday, I almost monopolized the gardens. I felt there was something lonely yet graceful and dignified about the gardens. My thoughts of the women who discarded this earthly world to become a nun for some reason might have been reflected in my feeling.
Empress Komyo's attitude toward the weak, the miserable, and the dying would be compared to that of Mother Teresa toward, according to her words, the unwanted, the unloved, and the forgotten by everybody. While there is little information about the Empress Komyo, there is much more about Mother Teresa.
- A few of my favorite quotes -
"We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop."
"Show kindness through your face, your eyes, your smile and through the warmth of your greetings. You must bear a cheerful smile. Don't only give your care, but give your heart as well."
"We do not have to do great things, only small things with great love. We do not have to be extraordinary in any way, I can do what you can't and you can do what I can't. Together we can do something beautiful for God."
These photos were taken in April, 2013.