Tag Archives: Kobodo

Kakuozan Tour (Nata-Yakushi): Walking around in the old and new area



     “There’s no point in looking around here in this approach to the temple. Look at the cake shop opposite. That came from Tajimi six years ago. There are few which have stood here since olden days but my shop. Most other shops have come to this place recently from somewhere, and will leave for somewhere soon.” The 70-year-old man said bitterly. 覚王山9

     I was at a tatami, or straw mat, shop in Kakuozan with some of my friends on December 21. We dropped by the store after visiting our main destination: Nata-yakushi. Kakuozan is a place name, but it actually means a temple called Nittai-ji standing there. The tatami mat shop is in the approach to the temple. As the owner said, many new stores, such as café chains and cake shops, lately have opened along the approach and they have gathered not only senior citizens but also youngsters. 覚王山14

     As the tatami shop’s owner pointed out, the area is losing historical attraction because old buildings have been destroyed and been replaced with modern fashionable shops, though the alteration is attracting young people. However, there are still many old and historical place remained in Kakuozan. He was delighted when we told him that we had visited Nata-yakushi. “Oh! You went there! That’s good!” 覚王山2

     Nata-yaskushi (a.k.a. Ioh-do) was built by Shimpo Cho originally in a temple named Eiko-in in Chikusa-ku in 1669. But it is not clear when the building was moved to the present place. Shimpo was a doctor in the Chinese Ming dynasty. He became a naturalized citizen and a special doctor for the lord of the Owari (Nagoya) Domein in the Edo period. Yakushi-nyorai (Bhaisajyaguru), or Buddha of Healing is enshrined in the building because Shimpo was a medical worker. In addition, Shimpo has become a street’s name in Chikusa-ku as well. 覚王山3

     The building attracts people because of not only its statue of Buddha of Healing and Shimpo’s story but also two statues of Buddha of the sunlight and the moonlight and 12 god statues curved by a famous sculptor in the Edo period: Enku. According the legend, Enku made those statues using spare woods for building Nagoya Castle with only a machete. He was a man more than 300 years ago but his works look avant-garde in even the 21st Century. They were fabulous. Unfortunately I could not take any photos of them because it was banned…But you can see them here: http://www.a-namo.com/ku_info/chikisaku/pages_n/enku_butsu.htm 覚王山4

     Interestingly many people were praying before those statutes putting a one-yen coin on the edge. I asked the reason around me, but no one knew. So, I rummaged through my wallet to find a one-yen coin, and stood it before a statue and prayed for people who were suffering from diseases, though I did not know why letting the coin stand. I found a stone monument when I came out from the old hall. It exactly looked like a coin. Standing a coin may have something to do with it. 覚王山5

     After visiting Nata-yakushi, my friends and I went to a Japanese restaurant nearby for lunch. The restaurant is an old folk house on whose roof there is a statue of Shoki, which is a figure of Chinese mythology and is believed to expel evil spirits. There was only one menu for lunch that day on December 21 because the 21 of every month is a festival day of Nittai-ji Temple in Kakuozan. 覚王山7Actually, Nata-yakushi is also just opened on 21. So many people come to the area on 21 and the restaurant cannot offer their usual service that day. Our table at the restaurant was interesting. It was made of an old sliding door and four old ceramic blaziers. The place was very old and cozy. We relaxed there and enjoyed their lunch special. 覚王山8

     After lunch, we walked through Nittai-ji temple’s ground, where there were many stalls and people. It looked like a bazaar somewhere. There were many food stands, and people were enjoying eating them outside. 覚王山10Many of the stalls were selling special items for New Year, such as rice cake, dried fish, and flowers and trees, and wives were shopping much they could not carry them all. The place was filled with energy from sellers and visitors. 覚王山11

     We left the bustling marketplace and walked into a tranquil place. We visited an old building called Yoki-so, which was an old villa of the first president of Matsuzakaya department store. It stands quietly near Nittai-ji Temple.覚王山12 It was built in 1918 and now is opened to the public as a Nagoya City’s tangible cultural asset. But we cannot enter inside the old building. Even so, it is nice to visit there. You can see the interesting architecture and the tea ceremony house, and walk around the garden for free.

     As going back to Nittai-ji Temple and the market area, we were returning to the hubble again. We dropped by a small shrine along the approach to the temple called Sai-Kobo-do, which has 65 statues of Kobo Daishi (a.k.a. Kukai). 覚王山13Those statues show his 62-year life. Actually Nittai-ji Temple has a festival on the 21st day every month because Kukai died on the 21 of the third month in 835. Despite Nittai-ji Temple does not worship Kukai, why has its special day become his death date? The old villa’s owner Mr. Ito started a campaign for gathering visitors to the temple using Kukai in 1909. He began building shrines relating to Kukai along the approach to the temple. The project hit a jackpot. Since then, many visitors have come to Kakuozan area and have spent money there.

     There are many interesting historical and culture things in Kakuozan area. I had a wonderful time at Nata-yakushi, the Japanese restaurant, Yoki-so, Sai-Kobo-do, the bazaar and the tatami shop with my friends. Next time I go to the area, I would like to visit other old temples and to come across something new!

Nagoya Study – Walking through the Old Route "Takabari Michi" Part 2: Higashiyama Zoo to Issha



     “You know, there are stone steps below the ticket booth. They’re the remains of the pond’s embankment.” Mr. Hajime Kobayashi said that and the second field study (I’ve already written the first one: http://wp.me/p16bjt-j1 ) began. It was held on March 5th. It had been clear up at the first tour, but unfortunately it was raining that day. TS3N1598 

     What Mr. Kobayashi mentioned is that the stone stairways below the ticket office at Higashiyama Zoo is the remains of part of the embankment of a pond called Shin-ike, which is next to Chikusa Sports Center. Today there is a parking lot across from the pond, but it used to be a part of the pond, which was much bigger in the old days. The pond was reclaimed for building a wide and straight road after World War II. There’re some trees remaining by the parking lot still now. It is a relic of a garden of a house which used to be near the pond. TS3N1604

     The participants of the class walked along the wide street named Hirokoji-dori and turned left and entered an alley before Hoshigaoka Station. The area is called Kameiri. “Kameiri” means upper water gate. There used to be a pond called Nigori-ike around here and to be connected to Shin-ike near the zoo. But there is nothing left of the pond now. What welcomed us at the end of the alley was an old-looking temple. It is Renge-ji Temple. It was moved from the temple town of Higashi-ku on account of the modernization of the city.  TS3N1602

     There is a hill around the station. We climbed up the slope and arrived at another temple. Unlike the former one, this Daijo-ji Temple looked very new and was quite big. I often come to Hoshigaoka area, but I didn’t know there is such a gorgeous temple nearby until the walking tour. The temple was built there about 60 years ago. Mr. Kobayashi said, “They were able to build such a big temple in this place because the cost of the land around here was very cheap at that time. I also might have bought a bit of land around here if I had known the subway station and the bus terminal and Mitsukoshi, the department store, were built…”TS3N1607

     We went through the alley behind the station and came to a small shrine. It is Kobo-do. We saw two other similar ones in Kakuozan and Motoyama at the first class walk. You see two modern buildings behind the small shrine on the photo. One of the buildings is a part of Shukutoku University. I come to the university to take Tai Chi class on Tuesdays, but I had never noticed the shrine. TS3N1613

     As I mentioned on my former article (http://wp.me/p16bjt-j1), Kobo-do is related to water. According to our teacher Mr. Kobayashi, there used to be a spring around there, and a villager had a business with the pure water in old days. It was nagashi somen: people catch and eat noodles with their chopsticks as the noodles run down stream water. TS3N1619

     Suddenly a small park appeared before us while walking along the main street after leaving the shrine and the university. Actually this place used to be a part of the main road. It’s become a kind of rest place to prevent it be used a parking lot by drivers and to make the road straight. TS3N1614

     After leaving the small park, we crossed the road and entered the alley. Actually the alley used to be the main street in the old era. The people of the past walked through this road to bring their renders to the castle town, the center of old Nagoya, and to come back to their village. Today the area looks very modern and tall apartment or business buildings are standing along the alley. But the place used to be hills and mountains and had a narrow unpaved path and rice fields.TS3N1615

     I was able to learn many things about my area I hadn’t known through this course of Nagoya Study this time. It’s become an eye-opener for me. There are many things remaining I don’t know in the field. After the disaster last year, many people have become interested in the history of their places and whose old names. Many of the devastated places have names which tell historical disasters such as earthquakes and tsunami, or tell what used to be those places in the old days. It’s a good thing to study about your place not only for fulfilling your intellectual curiosity but also for disaster prevention.

     The class finished at Issha Station, but the place should be called Ichiyashiro, not Issha. Actually Ichiyashiro is its real name. But nowadays most people don’t know about it…なごや学2 en