December, 2002

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For whom the bell tolls
\Enichi-ji Temple\

 This is a warm winter here. How are you, friends? I hope you are going to have a wonderful Christmas vacation.
 Today, let me introduce you a beautiful temple in Karatsu. It is Enichi-ji, a Soto Shu temple. It was founded here in 1375, in Muromachi Era. The former building was built more than 100 years ago, and it was getting more and more difficult to maintain it. Reverend Koiku Nagai, the 38th Priest, planned to renovate the temple. It was ever so difficult a task in this situation of the economy.
An old lady donated a huge amount of money, and other people continued.
During the years of planning and the construction, Reverend Nagai got stroked. The next Priest, his son-in-law, succeeded this project.
The celebration ritual of the new temple was held on October 29, 2000. The next day, the 38th Priest left this world for the higher place.
Reverend Nagai was a good friend and also a good teacher of our family.
We will always remember his smile. Namu-Shakamunibutsu.


Enichi-ji is at the foot of Mt. Kagami,
in the south-east part of Karatsu City.
The San-mon, gate to the temple


An old ginkgo tree beside San-mon
'A' Shape (open mouth) Niou in the gate

'UN' Shape (shut mouth) Niou
Approach to the Main Temple

Maple leaves were falling.
The Main Temple

This reads 'So-gen-zan',
the San-go of the Temple

Korean Copper Bell
(made in Korea in 1026)
National Important Cultural Property
Back garden was designed
by famous Shinzaemon Sorori
at the time ofToyotomi Hideyoshi


The garden stretches itself up to the mountain.
The Sho-ro, (Bell tower)

The bell tolls in the morning and evening to tell time.

In big temples of Japan, Joya-no-kane is tolled. Joya means the last night of the old year. Kane means bell.
At the moment between the old and new years, there opens a Gate to the Devil World in both Time and Space. Then bells are tolled 108 times to purify 108 sins of human nature. With the sound of the bell, our sins will vanish into the Gate and we will be purified.
About the 108 sins, I regret that I hadn't asked Reverend Nagai what they are. The little knowledge of mine about the sins is that they come from our six senses. Then, Greed, Anger, Stupidity, Arrogance, Doubt, and Misjudgement multiply the sins in the three Tenses of Past, Present and Future.
How awful. We are all sinners.

At the end of 2002, let us pray together. And we will toll the bell 108 times in our heart at Midnight of December 31. It is said that the last one time should be tolled after the day changes to the New Year.
I wish you a Happy New Year!

Thank you very much for visiting this page.
I hope you will return next month.
Yours, Harumi Okochi
Proprietress of Ryokan Yoyokaku

  Mail to Harumi Okochi