National Treasure tour of Shojoji and Ryukoji Temple in Aizu, Oct. 25, 2017 (勝常寺、龍興寺など会津の国宝巡り 2017年10月25日)

Today, I had a special tour of old Buddist temples in Yugawa Village and Aizumisato Town, both of which are located right west of Aizuwakamatsu. This study tour was organized by Omotenashi_Guide_Fukushima, a group of interpreter guides for Fukushima. I attended the tour as a member.

All of us gathered at Michinoeki (or Roadside Station) Aizu, which is about 30-minute ride on local Aizu Bus from Aizuwakamatsu Station. Then we traveled through the route by car.

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First, we visited Shojoji Temple in Yugawa Village which is only 5-minute by car (or 15-minute by walk) from there. A photo above shows the main Yakushido Hall building which was rebuilt in 1398. The temple itself was founded in 807 by Buddhist patriarch Tokuitsu. There was something special with this temple. It had a number of treasures including three National Treasure statues and nine other statues designated as National Important Cultural Assets, and Yakushido building which was also a National Important Cultural Asset. All the wooden statues were built in early 800’s.

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Photo above shows Kannondo Hall building in the precinct, which keeps all of the important treasures. One of them is eleven-faced Kannon statue which is a National Important Cultural Asset and also one (10th) of Aizu 33-Kannon designated as Japan Heritage last year.

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Photo above was a “goshuin” or official red stamp of the temple which was hand-written by the chief priest in person today.

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Photo above shows a brief English outline panel which stood inside the precinct.

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An American artist Langdon Warner is said to have contributed to protect these treasures from war attacks. There was a Memorial inscribed with his name (in Japanese Katakana) within the temple ground as shown above.

20171025龍興寺と一字蓮台 (560x421)
Then we moved to Ryukoji Temple where another National Treasure was kept. The location is close to JR Aizutakada Station in Aizumisato Town. A photo above shows front garden of the temple with a stone monument of the treasure. The treasure is a set of Lotus Sutra scrolls hand-written in early 800’s. In each of the nine scrolls left today, all of the sutra kanji characters were written on each lotus flower, drawn with different colors. Only a part of the image is shown in the bottom left of the picture above to give an amazing sense of it.

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Finally, we visited Hoyoji Temple also in Aizumisato Town. The temple had a 3-story Buddhist tower (23-meter high) as shown above, which was the only kind in Aizu region. It was rebuilt in 1780 for the 3rd time.

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A board above shows a brief outline of the tower in Japanese.

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The temple itself was founded in 720 by a Buddhist priest Tokudo. It had a Kannondo Hall called Suzume-bayashi Kannon as shown above, which was rebuilt in 1768. This was also one (29th) of Aizu 33-Kannon designated as Japan Heritage last year.

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A plate above shows a brief outline of the temple and the Kannondo in English and Japanese.

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Photo above was a “goshuin” or official red stamp of the temple which was also hand-written by the chief priest in person today.

The exact route and locations are shown in the map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.
20171025湯川村と会津美里町 (560x419)



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