Tokyobling's Blog

Senjuin Temple Closeups – Matsue City

Posted in Places by tokyobling on September 19, 2014

The best way to enjoy a visit to a temple or a shrine in my opinion is to go for the details. Just like older western Churches, temples and shrines in Japan (and indeed in the rest of Asia as well) are absolutely loaded with details all of which carries tons of symbolism and meaning. Most Japanese can’t actually “read” these details either (it is not a lost skill, as these details have long been the domain of specialists and professionals). I have always thought it interesting in Japanese that there is one word for “leg” that covers everything from the hipjoint to the big toe, but there is also a very specific name for each part of the spire on top of a pagoda, with incredible detail. Every time I visit a temple in Japan I learn something new about the symbolism or naming of the different parts of it. Sometimes I take a lot of photos of details to remember them, like with this temple that I visited in Matsue City in Shimane Prefecture, the Senjuin (千手院). This temple is on the slopes of a hill neatly placed to overlook the city and the castle that makes the city famous. The temple belongs to the oldest and largest of the Shingon sect of Buddhism. I was too late in the season to experience the famous weeping cherry blossom tree (shidare sakura) which is over 200 years old. The temple itself is very old but it was moved here in the 19th century after a large fire burned down the original buildings in 1678. If you visit Matsue City and have a bit of free time and the weather is good I recommend visiting this temple if nothing else than for the news.

A few of the interesting details on this temple was the elaborate (even more than usual) bright vermilion ceramic roof finials, complete with the famous kamon (heraldic sign) Gosannokiri which is extremely similar to the official heraldic sign of the prime minister and can be found in all Japanese passports for example (to be honest there are 129 official kamon based on this simple design and it could be anyone of them). I also enjoyed seeing the printed prayer slips pasted on one of the walls which I have never seen in Tokyo (I am sure there must be some). Another one I liked was the little votive painting of the Senjukannon, the buddhist patron saint of people born in the year of the rat and often prayed to by people with poor eyes.

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6 Responses

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  1. remszi said, on September 19, 2014 at 8:46 am

    I adore these photos! My favourite is the 3rd one – it’s really very well captured.

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on September 19, 2014 at 9:03 am

      Thank you! The wind had blown them like that, even on that fine days with not much wind they hung like that. (^-^)

      Like

  2. amadl said, on September 20, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    Gorgeous photos! The roof detaiLs in photo 6 is amazing

    Like

  3. rudyhou said, on October 14, 2014 at 9:35 am

    i enjoy these ‘detailed’ pics. i notice the details show the kind of feeling as if one is in a chinese temple rather than a japanese one.

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on October 15, 2014 at 12:25 am

      Thank you Rudyhou! Buddhist temples look similar China, Japan, Taiwan and Korea I think.

      Like

  4. madeinmatsue said, on April 2, 2015 at 12:31 am

    Reblogged this on madeinmatsue and commented:
    A lovely post, showing the ‘details’ of Senjuin Temple, Matsue ^-^

    Liked by 1 person


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