The term "Shichido Garan (seven halls)" is sometimes used to describe a large Buddhist temple with many buildings, but there are literally seven halls in the precincts of Kuhonbutsu, or Joshin-ji, in Okusawa. To be precise, there are more than seven, including the main gate, Enma Hall, Sanmon Gate, bell tower, Kaizando Hall, Kannon Hall, Main Hall, Sanbutsu Hall, Shoin, and Shokudo.
The buildings of this temple are not only magnificent but also unique in their arrangement. You would think that if you walk straight through the gate, constructed in 1793, you would reach the main hall where Shakyamuni Buddha is enshrined, but that is not the case. The path passes by the main hall and leads to a hall called Gehin-do, where three statues of Amida Buddha are enshrined. The main hall, which I had passed by, was behind me as I stood in front of Gehin-do. This is because the approach through the gate and the main hall are built in the same way, facing west.
The Jodo sect of Buddhism, to which this temple belongs, believes that people go to the Sukhavati (it is believed it is in the west) when they die. Therefore, the approach to the temple runs westward, and the main hall is also built facing west from the worldly side. The Sanbutsu-do (three Buddha halls) on the west side as seen from the main hall are on the side of Paradise, representing that the Amitabha Buddha sitting inside will welcome us in Paradise. This unique layout of the temple is in accordance with the worldview of the Sukhavati.
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