The Great Buddha of Toganji temple, Nagoya

  • AICHI
  • NAGOYA
  • SPOT
  • Off the beaten path

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    Even though, many tourists visit Nagoya every day, the quietest place I have seen there is the Toganji temple which has a great Buddha statue peaking up through the greenery around. I think most people miss this place or it may not be included in their travel schedule. This temple is situated near Motoyama subway station which can be accessed by Higashiyama or Meijo subway lines. This temple is said to be built by the brother of Nobunaga Oda, the great Samurai of ancient Japan, as a memorial and grave to his father, Nobuhide. Apart from the other tourist sites of Nagoya, since this area seems to be not so crowded, it can sometimes be difficult to locate the entrance.

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    Author’s photo
    Where Japan meets India

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    Author’s photo

    Upon walking through the entrance, there is a Japanese style garden and it mostly seems to be very silent. The long pavement leads to the main hall of the temple. It contains a usual Chinese style temple with golden colours around. It also holds the sleeping statue of the goddess Benzaitensama. I was really surprised to know that it is same as the Goddess Saraswathi, the Hindu goddess of music and learning. After the Golden week, on May 7 and 8 there is a festival conducted to honour this goddess. There is a wooden block inside this hall and it is believed that if we touch the wooden block, it will wash away all the sins we have committed till now. There are also some statues of gods and goddesses of Lamaism and a pagoda over the roof of this area. Outside this hall, there is a Shiva Linga, which also depicted some relation of this temple with Hinduism. There are also many snake sculptures around this area. Many of the things found in this temple are similar to the Indian temples and culture.

    The great Buddha

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    Author’s photo

    From there extends a stone pavement downwards which directs to the great green coloured statue of Buddha. Its dark with the thick woods on both sides of the pavement. The Buddha statue, which has a height of above 10 meters, with its eyes closed and the famous sacred ‘dharma chakra pravarthana mudra’ at one palm, which has the symbol of Ashoka chakra on it. ‘Dharma’ means ‘justice’, ‘chakra’ is ‘the wheel’ and ‘pravarthana’ is ‘working’ and, in short, the mudra(symbol) means ‘turning the wheel of justice’. The icons and statues beneath it include saints, elephants, deers, Ashoka chakra and etc. The entire appearance once again resembles some Indian temple.

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    Author’s photo

    Opposite to the great Buddha statue, there is a bronze left palm of Buddha with the same symbol in it, containing the Asoka chakra. There are statues and a lot of trees around this area.

    Pet graveyard

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    Author’s photo

    A lamp is lit at the centre of this place. There is also a bamboo grave inside this area which is dedicated to the dead pets. There are some statues that are kept near the place including that of a cat.

    There is also a graveyard area in front of that place, and many people come there with flowers to pray for their ancestors.
    There is Yotsuya dori path behind the statue, which will direct you back to the subway station in 5 minutes. The entire place is really silent and the darkness of the woods and chirping of the birds gives a feeling of a small forest area. Since all the temples, especially the ones like this, in Japan are always packed with tourists, this place seems to be an exception. The main difference I found here is that there are no shops or souvenirs around this temple area.