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_•õŽRŽ›  Kabusanji Temple (Takatsuki City)

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Last update May 25, 2011





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ACCESS: JR Takatsuki Station --> bus bound for Hara-Ohashi (Œ´‘å‹´) at the North Exit rotary--> Kabuzan-Guchi (_•õŽRŒû) stop --> walk approx. 1.3km to the east. (http://www.kabusan.or.jp/)

Nature Painting Autumn in Its Way
A Hidden Spot of Hues and Tones Aesthetically Blended to Form a Seasonal Mosaic Only Known to Local Connoisseurs

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Natural Miracle Artworking
When scorching summer has gone and the air has become chilled enough, Nature prepares to stage a dazzling finale of its seasonal cycle. Vivid and deep autumnal colors are in display here and there; on woods, mountains, and even on trees in your garden. Fascinating blends of young red, matured crimson, pale sanguine, bright vermillion... too many hues to name. And yellow, too. Refreshing canary, mellow amber, shiny gold, brownish straw... again, Nature's palettes seem to have no limit. So amazed and enthralled, you may want to eternally capture the miraculous harmony of shades and tones to keep to yourself, say, in form of photos, videos, or paintings. However, you will soon know any artificial copycat never works, at least, perfectly. After all, when it comes to rendering natural beauty, Nature is always the best painter.

More Indulgence with Less Viewers
So autumn will come. Where do you pick for a nice red leaf-viewing jaunt this year? You can join the crowds at Kiyomizu Temple or Arashi-yama, famous places in Kyoto, and be content with modest glances over many human heads. However, if you are determined not to go for people viewing (nobody intends to!) but definitely nothing but the autumnal fascination, this temple should suffice. Various kinds of trees other than Japanese maples are in store here simply because this is a mountain spot.

Kabusanji, literally meaning "Mt. Kabu Temple", is located in a rural town in Takatsuki City in Osaka Prefecture, almost half way from Kyoto to Osaka. It belongs to the Tendai Buddhist denomination and categorized as an ascetic pilgrimage temple. The temple's main worship image is "Vaishravana", one of the Four Heavenly Kings in Buddhism.

Being an ascetic temple, it's not an easy-going place for a family picnic, or there's no fancy Omiyage (souvenir) trinket shop. However, when you finally arrive at the Koma-inu (guardian beasts) standing entrance of the temple after a little leg-teasing walk (for exercise-shy people), you will have assurance that you have done a right thing for your health and mind.

Kabusanji Temple Legend
There is an ancient story about Kabusanji Temple:

When an ascetic named En-no-Gyōja was training himself in Mt. Katsuragi in the country of Yamato (presently Nara Prefecture), he spotted a golden light emission far away in the north. Inspired, he headed toward the direction and reached a waterfall called "Nine-headed Dragon Fall", where he met a heavenly being Konpira (Kumbhira in Sanskrit). The being told him to build a temple at the location, then, carved four Vaishravana images out of holy trees among the materials to construct the temple. One of the four images stayed at the constructed temple while the others traveled in the air to three different places: northeast to Mt. Kurama in Kyoto; the second to the south, Mt. Shigi in Nara; the fourth to the north peak of Mt. Kabu.

A legend is often fabricated to add some mystical charm to plain facts; one Vaishravana image is enshrined at Kabusanji (for the first time in Japan), and another is kept in the inner sanctuary built on the north peak of Mt. Kabu. Kurama Temple in Kyoto and Shigi Temple in Nara also has its own Vaishravana image enshrined.

Vaishravana, Deity of Battle and Prosperity
Let's see what Vaishrana, principal worship object at the temple is all about. The Japanese name of this deity is Bishamon-ten; or Tamon-ten which literally means "the heavenly being who listens much," probably derived from the original Sanskrit name, which can be interpreted as "one who listens well".

Vaishravana is widely believed to be a patron of war in Japan, and the image is often created as an ancient Chinese warrior figure clad with helmet and armor, a miniature pagoda in the right hand and a cudgel in the left hand. The one enshrined in the Main Hall of the temple also has the same appearance. Vaishravana is also one of the Seven Lucky Gods in Japan.

As an icon of valor and bravery, many warrior commanders rendered worship to the deity. Uesugi Kenshin, who was also a Buddhist monk and deeply devoted to Vaishravana, used the first Kanji character (”ù) of its name for his battle banner. The Vaishravana image at Kabusanji Temple is said to have been revered by famous historical warriors such as Kusunoki Masashige in the Northern and Southern Courts Period (1330 to 1393); Shōgun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu in the Muromachi Period (1334 to 1573); and Matsunaga Hisahide in the the Era of Warring States (ca. 1467 to 1573).

As time shifted from the warfare era to a peaceful age, so does people's interest; Vaishravana began to be assigned with a new role: a patron of business. However, this new attribute sounds quite reasonable when considering that the original Vaishravana in India was revered as a patron of prosperity. Moreover, since it was included in the Seven Lucky Gods, why not, naturally, many merchants used to pay homage to the deity.

Royal Connection to the Temple
The temple's connection with the Imperial Family is strong and long. In ancient time, the temple was dedicated for prayers for fulfillment of wishes of Emperor Kōnin, and in modern era, it was the family temple of the Arisugawa (extinct imperial branch line). Buildings holding the imperial seal of "Front View Double Sixteen-Petal Layer Crysanthemum" found in the temple premises are telltale of the close relationship with the imperial house.

The beginning of the relationship dates back to the Nara Period (710 - 784), when Emperor Kōnin ordered his son, Prince Kaijō, who had been ordained at Katsuoji Temple (located in presently Minō, Osaka Prefecture), to reestablish Kabusanji Temple, together with other neighboring temples, as a religious base related to the Imperial Family. The imperial intent behind the reestablishment seemed to be political: unifying the people's ideas based on Buddhism and using mountain ascetics moving from one mountain range to another as the source of information to know what was going on outside the court.

After the capital was moved from Nagaoka (located in present day Mukō City, Kyoto Prefecture) to the center of Kyoto City (then called the "capital of Heian"), the temple became affiliated with the Tendai denomination, founded by Master Saichō, because the master was politically supported by the then emperor Kanmu. The memorial thirteen-folded pagoda and the five-story pagoda housing a portion of Emperor Kōnin's remains and Prince Kaijō's hair respectively can be found within the temple premises. A hanging scroll written by Prince Kuni-ie of the house of Fushimi, an imperial member in the Edo Period (1603 - 1867) also has been found within the temple complex.

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