Footprints of JodoShinshu

ESHINNOSATO MUSEUM             恵 信 尼 里 記 念 館

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Facing the majestic range of snow-covered Mount Myoko in Niigata Prefecture Japan, stands the splendid Eshinnosato Museum. Located 5 km from the small town of Arai and reachable by taxi, our visit on 1st April 2016 became the highlight of our recent tour of Japan.

The enormous contribution by Eshinni-ko (1182-1270) – Shinran Shonin’s wife – has often been overlooked by JodoShinshu followers. She had been a devoted wife and a constant support for Master Shinran in all his Dharma activities and after the passing of our benevolent teacher, encouraged their daughter Kakushinni in preserving, propagating and transmitting his incomparable True Pure Land teachings to the world in its original form – in order that mundane foolish persons like us today – could learn the only viable Way of extricating ourselves from the relentless cycle of pain and suffering of samsara.

Through a series of letters – the original of which are exhibited at the museum, together with paintings depicting the living and teaching scenes of her life with Master Shinran – they give us that ineffable feeling about a great woman who is behind the revealing of Amida Buddha’s gift of salvation to all suffering beings like us. It is no wonder that Master Shinran had regarded and treated her as a manifestation of Avalokitesvara.

The Eshinnosato Museum is not a shrine or temple but a wonderful place – rightfully and clearly commemorating the immense veneration of fellow travellers to Amida Buddha’s Pure Land – for a wonderful woman whom many, including myself, considered as the Mother of JodoShinshu.

This memorable trip of karmic connection with Eshinni-ko is certainly a great blessing from Amida Buddha and a teaching for us to deeply hear The Call of Boundless Compassion.

NAMO AMIDA BUTSU   南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛

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SAKAI BRANCH OF HONGWANJI TEMPLE      堺 市 本 願 寺

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On 4th April 2016, we took a pleasant morning stroll around the city of Sakai in Osaka and as we pass by many Buddhist temples of different Mahayana traditions in the area, we were touched by the rich culture and strong influence of Buddhism in Japan. Our visit to Sakai City was not planned but it certainly gave us an amazing surprise when we walked up to the main gate of Sakai Branch of Hongwanji Temple.

Originally constructed at this site by Rennyo Shonin, the great restorer of the wonderful teachings of Jodo Shinshu, the temple was burnt down by a disastrous fire in 1798 leaving only the main gate and a historic bell. The present Hondo (the main prayer hall) built in 1825 is the largest wooden building in Sakai City. In order to promote Buddhism amongst the rising traders and manufacturers developing steady trade through Ming China, Master Rennyo founded this beautiful temple which became the centre dispensing the precious teachings of Master Shinran in Sakai.

On entering the historic main gate marked by a pillar inscribing Master Rennyo’s name, we were presented the standing sculptures of Master Shinran on the right and Master Rennyo on the left, beautifully adorned by cherry blossoms in full bloom. This is really a rare sight for us as we have not seen the beautiful statues of these great teachers together in front of a great teaching hall. We were overwhelmed by the compassionate energy of Master Rennyo in bringing the real benefits to the common people during his time. The Hondo, Shinsho Hall (信 證 殿 – Hall of True Entrusting and Realization) appropriately named after the original temple Shinsho-in (信 證 院), is a magnificent yet serene prayer and teaching hall with the image of Amida Tathagata at the centre of worship.

Our visit to Sakai Hongwanji Temple by chance must have been the ripening of our good karma from the past which allowed us to continue hearing the Call of Boundless Compassion.

NAMO AMIDA BUTSU   南 無 阿 彌 陀 佛

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2 thoughts on “Footprints of JodoShinshu

  1. Beautiful Heng, I really enjoyed your writing on Eshinni, and your experience when visiting Japan 🙂 Again I was touched by your beautiful words. Thank you so much. Gassho, Camille _/I\_

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