Just south of Nijo Castle in Kyoto, there is a temple called Shinsen-en. It is a Shinto shrine on an island in a pond, with a shrine dedicated to Zennyo Ryuo. The temple is now sandwiched between Oshikoji-dori to the north and Oike-dori to the south, and although its precincts are not large, it is said that when it was built in 794, it was a vast forbidden garden (garden for the emperor's exclusive use) built adjacent to the inner sanctum of Heian-kyo. When Ieyasu Tokugawa built Nijo Castle in 1602, most of the northern grounds were incorporated into the castle, and the scale of the temple was significantly reduced to its current precincts.
The deity enshrined here is the Zennyo Ryuo, one of the Dragon Kings who pray for rain. It is also interesting that a god of rain-making is enshrined in the forbidden garden. It is said that Kukai prayed for rain by the pond in Shinsen-en at the imperial order of Emperor Junna. As a result of Kukai's invocation of the Zennyo Ryuo, the drought ended and rain began to fall, and the pond in Shinsen-en is believed to be inhabited by the Zennyo Ryuo.
The lack of rain is the same now as it was in the past, but in this day and age, no one would seriously pray for rain. While I was playing with the ducks in the precincts of the shrine, people came one after another to pray at the Zennyo Ryuo shrine. I wondered what they were praying for.
April 15, 2021
RICOH GR III
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