Kongorinji temple installs new Mandala

Kongorinji Hondo Hall (National Treasure)

The new Mandala is in this Kongorinji Hondo Hall (National Treasure).

Kongorinji temple (金剛輪寺), one of the Koto Sanzan temple trio of Tendai Buddhist temples (National Treasures) in Aisho, eastern Shiga, lost its precious Mandala about 140 years ago during the Meiji Era (it is now owned by Nezu Art Museum in Tokyo and designated as an Important Cultural Property). They tried to get it back from the museum but to no avail.

So in April 2005, they set out to create a duplicate Mandala and it was recently completed after four years of painstaking art work. A service was held on May 10, 2009 at the temple to transfer a spirit to the Mandala and to install it in the temple. The service was officiated by the 91-year-old Tendai Zasu abbot (the sect’s top priest) as well. The Mandala, called Kongokai Hachiju-isson Mandala (金剛界八十一尊曼荼羅), is now open for public viewing in the temple’s Hondo hall until May 31, 2009. Public viewings of the Mandala will be held only once a year.

Buddhist art lovers will marvel at the Mandala’s depiction of 81 buddhas in the cosmos, with natural pigments brought in from China. Kamakura-Era techniques for the pigments and silk were used to create the 2-meter square painting on silk. The silk came from silkworms (in Ehime Pref. 愛媛県西予市) still creating the old type of silk used during the Kamakura Period. The pigments were also from crushed natural minerals like cinnabar for red, azurite for blue, and malachite for green. The Mandala cost about 30 million yen to make, made possible through the donations of almost 2,000 people.

*The temple is accessible by bus on weekdays from JR Inae Station on the Biwako/Tokaido Line. Buses leave at 9:17, 11:32, and 15:00. Buses do not run on weekends. Google Map


Kongorinji Web site: http://kongourinji.jp/

Selling more bin-temari in Aisho




Chunichi Shimbun newspaper reported on April 9, 2009 that sales of bin-temari in Aisho town has increased by 150% during fiscal 2008 compared to last year. The local tourist association sold some 173 bin-temari this year, priced from 18,000 yen to 30,000 yen.

“Bin” means bottle, and “temari” is a threaded ball. The bin-temari is a round glass ball with a threaded ball inside. Bin-temari come in different sizes and an infinite number of threaded-ball designs. It also makes a great wedding gift since the round shape symbolizes harmony of the heart and family. You can also clearly see inside. The bin-temari is a symbol of Aisho.

The tourist association sells the bin-temari through its Web site and at their tourist info counter at Echigawa Station on the Omi Railway Line.

Their Web site (Japanese only):

More bin-temari photos here:

Photo exhibition at Imazu Public Library

I’m holding a photo exhibition now at Imazu Public Library near Omi-Imazu Station (West exit) in Takashima. It will be until July 30.

I’m showing photos of the Imazu Jr. High School Rowing Club’s rowing trip on Biwako which I took last Aug. (also see the above note). I also have photos of Biwako Shuko no Uta.

Imazu Library site:

Also, on Aug. 17 at Imazu, the 3rd Imazu Regatta will be held. This is a rowing race which anyone can participate, even non-experienced rowers. You can even go there alone, and they will put you together with other people to row on the same boat. The race course is only 500 meters. More details at their site:

Biwako Bunkakan shuts down on March 31, 2008

The Lake Biwa Cultural Museum (Biwako Bunkakan 琵琶湖文化館), shaped like a castle on the shore of Lake Biwa in Otsu, closed on March 30, 2008 after 47 years. Admission was free on the last day. The museum opened in 1961 and served as an art museum, centering on Buddhist art, and aquarium for lake fish. Parts of the museum’s collection were later transferred to other museums in Shiga. Its collection of about 5,000 pieces includes National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties. The lookout deck on the top floor gave a panoramic view of the lake. The rooftop also had a dragonfly sculpture. Due to financial reasons, the cash-strapped prefecture decided to close the museum which will continue to store its collection.
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