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27 December 2005 @ 10:40 pm
This Post Brought To You By They Byrd, And Kato Kiyomasa  
Rats. LJ just ate my post about how Kato Kiyomasa was afraid to go to the bathroom. *sniff* Apparently when he went to do his business he wore these really tall clogs and kind of perched over the right spot. Maybe that's why he made the walls at Kumamoto Castle so high?

Ah well, now that I've already gotten my entertainment over certain Japanese historical figures' potty proclivities out of my system, I'll move on to other topics.

The Byrd and I were conversing earlier and she passed along some notes on where certain people are buried. (She also passed along the gem about Kato Kiyomasa. He's going to be showing up in the next arc of Mirage I read. I don't think I am going to ever be able to greet his appearance with a straight face. Particularly not if a bathroom is involved.)

It turns out that Daitoku Temple in Kyoto is an absolute treasure-trove for historical dead people. I can't remember the list of everyone of significance who is buried there, but I do remember that it includes Ishida Mitsunari, as well as bits of Oda Nobunaga, if I recall correctly. (Though all things considered, at least one of them cannot possibly be resting peacefully. Mitsunari having, y'know, assasinated Nobunaga and all...)

Takeda Shingen has bits at near-by Myoushin-ji. I had been looking for a reason to get back and look at the gardens there, since I remember them being particularly beautiful. Now I am seeing getting there on the next Japan trip. Since, y'know, it's the Uesugi Kenshin-Takeda Shingen trip. (What? Don't look at me like that. It was Jan's idea in the first place.)

And the winner for "most unepexcted place to be buried at" is Sanada Yukimura, whose remains reside at Ryoan-ji, of all places! This? This makes me pause and go "argh!" I go "argh" for two reasons. First, I have been to Ryoan-ji several times and have never dropped by to pay my respects to Yukimura. And second, this means I am going to have to go to Ryoan-ji at least one more time so I can drop by to pay my respects. *sigh* Oh well. It's inevitable that sooner or later I will have more new ducklings along, and we will have to drop by there, since it is one of the more famous spots in Kyoto. The next new set of ducklings will just have to deal with The Byrd and I suddenly turning morbid and tracking down some dead guy's remains while they enjoy the peace and tranquility of the garden.

(Ryoan-ji, for those who are not Datageek, is probably the most famous Japanese rock garden. It's the one that you always hear about, since there is no place in the garden that you can see all the stones. lucifie, you probably most care about it since Tommi and his golden boots visited there back in '03. Which is another reason why I would not weep too much to go back to Ryoan-ji.)

Speaking of the dead, The Byrd mentioned that there is a temple in the Kamakura area that she wants to get to, since it's dedicated to Enma Dai-oh. Having just finished the Enoshima arc in Mirage, I was able to promptly say "ah, yes, you mean En'noji?" (It's always nice when one's smut allows one to sound a nice and ehjewkeyted. >.>) Kamakura is now on the list for the next Japan trip. Just 'cause there is something fundamentally cool about a temple dedicated to the lords of the dead.

While we're in the area I would like to try and stop by Zen'i Arai Benten and, if at all possible, Enoshima. No, that is not all because of fannishness. Actually, none of it is because of fannishness. For some reason I seem to have ... I'm not sure what to call it. A fondness? An affinity? Yes, I think that's the right word. I have an affinity with Benten. Not sure why. But given that, I thought maybe a little research on Benten (or Benzaiten, more properly) was in order.

(Personally, at first I was a little surprised to discover that I seem to have an affinity for Benten. Most other Japanese deities that I have a fondness for I have chosen. Benten... not so much. I mean, she's associated with love (and hence sex), beauty, and music. While all of those are nice, I've never really thought of them as being stuff particularly associated with me. It wasn't until I went to the Zen'i Arai Benten shrine that I suddenly realized that my personal symbolism with money and Benten's are the same.)

This site has some fascinating information on Enoshima. I have always associated the island with Benten, and it is because of Benten that most tourists go to visit. But the three shrines of the Enoshima Jinja are not dedicated to Benten. They are dedicated to three Shinto goddesses, all of whom appear in the Kojiki. Benten herself has a small, seperate hall. (Given that, in retrospect I'm finding some of the stuff in the Enoshima Mirage arc to be a bit odd... Particularly since the caves are not associated with Benten as much as with one of the Shinto goddesses.)

Those with some familiarity with Japanese religions should have had a slight moment of "huh?" when I mentioned Enoshima Jinja in connection with Benten. The reason is, "jinja" indicates a Shinto shrine. Benten is a Buddhist deity. She is the only women in the Seven Lucky Gods. (For the MoB enthusiasts, Bishamonten is another of the Seven Lucky Gods.)

Enoshima is an example of one of those weird things that you will find in Japanese religion -- a place where Shinto and Buddhism coexist peacefully.

Again, the serious Japanese religion enthusiast is shaking their head. During the Meiji Restoration (in 1868), in an attempt to bolster the Emperor's claim to power, Shinto was declared the national religion. As part of the process, places that had formerly held an amalgamation of Shinto and Buddhist practices were forced apart. In the case of Enoshima, this meant that the statues of Benten that were housed at the Enoshima Jinja were removed, and were almost destroyed. Which is a strange thought, given that most people would associate Enoshima with Benten. And yet for almost a century Benten was not venerated at Enoshima. Life is just full of little ironies, huh?

Enoshima is one of the three great Bentens. I find it amusing that Enoshima ended up being the location of the story arc following the Miyajima one in Mirage, since the Benten shrine at Itsukushima is one of the other great Bentens. Miyajima being one of my favorite places in the world (no, I'm not exagerating), it's no real surprise that I've been to that Benten shrine. My favorite traffic safety charm came from there. (Though I am amused by this year's charm, which is from the Toyokuni Jinja, which means that my car's patron deity for the year is Toyotomi Hideyoshi. I still have my charm from the Benten shrine on Miyajima, though.)

Oh yeah... Before I move on from Enoshima there is one last little detail I'm going to mention. According to the article above, local folklore says that the larger of the two caves looks like a woman's vagina. I'm not sure if I'm glad or sorry that I didn't know what when I was reading that particular Mirage story arc.

The link above has a link to an article on Zen'i Arai Benten. One of the interesting things that it mentions is that shrine was originally dedicated to a deity in charge of food -- or rice, to be specific. During fuedal times rice was used as a measure of wealth, and so a deity in charge of rice would naturally become associated with money as well.

None of that sounds even remotely familiar, right? I mean, is anyone other than me looking at that and saying "Inari?"

Over time the shrine became associated with Benten as well. Most of the Seven Lucky Gods have wealth as part of their pervue. And so it is that now people go to Zen'i Arai Benten to pray for more wealth. I go to Zen'i Arai Benten because it is one of the most peaceful places I have ever been to. Something about the atmosphere reminds me of Miyajima. Just the shrine itself, not the area around it. And yes, this is another shrine that is dedicated to a Buddhist deity.

Bah. So much to research, so little time. My researches for tonight conclude here.


And on a totally random note, I just realized that in the episode of Kamen Rider Kuuga that I'm watching has a bit that takes place next to Enoshima. I was somewhat startled to see the island in the background and was able to recognize it. Go, Go Obessive Datageek Fangirl Powers!