Enchanté, Monsieur Trenet!

After the break we continued on A61 then changed on to A9 at Narbonne. It was around noon when we saw a sign for l’aire de Narbonne-Vinassan and decided to pull in for a quick lunch.

As we alighted from the car, we were greeted by a strange sight…

What the heck?!

A huge bronze head with a manic grin was looking down on us from the top of a small hill…

I had no idea what the sculpture was for and uploaded this image to my Instagram, asking about the meaning of it. Later days, thanks to one of my Facebook friends, the mystery was solved.

Enchanté, Monsieur Charles Trenet!

He was a French singer and songwriter who was born in Nabonne in 1913. He had many hits throughout his long career and the most famous song must be this…

“La Mer”, what a lovely song.

However, I still don’t understand why his statue was so bizarre though. A gigantic head sticking out from the mound, what was it all about? I showed the picture to Hubbie but he shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘Well, that’s French for you.’ What do you mean? I still don’t get it!, I persisted as he walked toward a kitchen to make himself a cup of tea.

Anyway, mum and I shared spaghetti carbonara and mozzarella and tomato salad…

The kitchen seemed to specialised in Italian and they offered various pizzas as well as pasta and lasagna.

Oh if only Bella were with us…

I missed you very much, Bay-Bay!

Ok, on y va a Avignon!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Buddha Of Fire

The last afternoon of 2013 was spent at the temple, walking off my mum’s hearty lunch.
A celebratory sign was up on the San-mon (山門)…

20140127-173457.jpg

Gasho (賀正) means “New Year Celebration”, by the way.
After walking through the San-mon, on my left was Chouzu-ya (手水舎)…

20140127-173635.jpg

A water-filled basin, called chōzubachi, are used by worshipers for washing their left hands, right hands, mouth and finally the handle of the water ladle to purify themselves before approaching the main hall.
Next to the water ablution pavilion, there was a statue of Buddha called Enmei-jizo (延命地蔵)…

20140127-173756.jpg

This statue was erected by voluntary donations gathered from all over Japan in the early 18th century.
The jizo is also known as Yaoya Oahichi no Nure-botoke (八百屋お七のぬれ仏). It is alleged that the statue was dedicated for the repose of the soul of Yaoya Oshichi – Greengrocer Oshichi, a daughter of the greengrocer Tarobei in Edo in the 17th century. She started a fire in order to be reunited with the man she had a crush on – her tale goes like this. She met this guy who she fell in love with at the temple where her family evacuated during a fire in her neighbourhood. After the fire was put out, everyone went home and she lost touch with him. So infatuated she was, she decided to set a fire to her parent’s house so she could see him again at the temple. She did carried out arson and as the result she was burned at the stake. The story became the subject of plays and her love story became a legend.

Oh well, a puppy love with a lethal consequence. Love should hot but shouldn’t burn down a town…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Two Kings @ Niō-Mon

The first gate, where visitors to Zenkō-ji pass, is Niō-mon.
This all timber gate is 14m high, 13m wide and 7m deep.
Niō means “two kings”, and at the gate, giant wooden statues of two angry looking kings are on display. They are warrior guardians of the temple which protect the compound from enemies of Buddhism…

20140106-140203.jpg

The original gate was built in the mid 18th century and it was destroyed by a powerful earthquake in 1847. 17 years later, the replacing statues were curved in Edo (present Tokyo) and carried on a wheel cart over a distance of 230km. In 1891, the gate was again destroyed by fire – one major drawback of timber structure, and it was restored in 1918 to the present form. This time, the figures, 5m in height, were created by Takamura Kouun and his protégé, Yonehara Unkai…

20140106-140351.jpg

The statue on the left is called Naraen Kongō – 那羅延金剛 and has his mouth open to utter the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet, which is pronounced “a”…

20140106-140549.jpg

20140106-140743.jpg

The right statue is called Misshaku Kongō – 密迹金剛 and has his mouth closed, representing the last letter of the Sanskrit alphabet, pronounced “um”…

20140106-140921.jpg

20140106-140951.jpg

These two letters (a-un in Japanese) together symbolize the birth and death of all things.
By the way, the figures at Zenkō-ji’s Niō-mon are rather unconventional. For some reason unknown to me (I did google about the subject but so far found nothing about this mystery), their positions are placed reversed right to left – normally, Naraen Kongō is placed on the right and Misshaku Kongō on the left.

Above the opening of the gate, there is a frame “Jougakusan”, dedicated by one of the imperial princes…

20140106-141107.jpg

Straw sandals, “waraji”, tied to the wooden fences around the statues…

20140106-141227.jpg

They represent wishes of the worshippers, praying for safe journeys.

The side-view of the gate…

20140106-141342.jpg

Behind the Niō warriors, there are two additional figures. One is a statue of Sanpoukoujin – 三法嵐神, the protector of three treasures of Buddhism, Buddha, the teaching of Buddhism and priests and another one is Sanmendaikokuten – 三面大黒天, a god of war with three faces, to ward off evil spirits…

20140106-152829.jpg

The sight of the statues inspires wonderment to anyone beholds them. How master sculptors breathed life into mere timber? Especially the two warrior kings, their rippling torsos are so beautifully curved, they look as if they are about to move!

After admiring Niō-Mon, I headed towards Higashinomon-cho…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Blog at WordPress.com.