I was in transit for one day in Narita International Airport and at the end of my 9-hour flight from Vancouver I didn't feel like making the 90 minute trip by train just to get into Tokyo.
Unfortunately for Canadians this airport is sadly remembered when on June 22 1985, a piece of luggage exploded while being transferred to an Air India flight, killing two baggage handlers. The luggage had originated at Vancouver International Airport. Fifty-five minutes later, another piece of luggage, also originating from Vancouver, exploded on Air India Flight 182, killing all onboard.
I took a 15-minute bus ride into Narita City to experience a bit of Japan beyond the airport. Narita City is a rather small but comfortable city that can give you the feel and sights of Japan without a lot of effort.
In my case I wanted to visit the Naritasan Shinshoji temples, unfortunately it was already dark and I didn't have the chance to take good pictures.
Before I forget, this is one of the main centres of the Buddhist Shingon sect in Japan and has several branches throughout Kanto.
Here I had a glimpse into Japan’s Buddhist culture and sense of aesthetics, with majestic shrines and temples laid out on the well-manicured grounds.
The Naritasan Shinsho-ji Temple has been closed to people for more than a thousand years since its foundation by Priest Kanjo in 940, as the head temple of the Chizan Branch of Shingon Sect and also as 'Fudo of Narita.' The principal image of the temple is the statue of Fudo Myoo, which was carved by Kukai (founder of the Shingon sect).
Sanju-no-to (the three storied pagoda) has cloud and water patterned engravings at the back of the eaves of each story, which were restored in 1977 by precisely following the colors and the method of lacquering shown in the color use manual of 1803, which was kept in the Naritasan Buddhist Library.
The restored engravings are precious as they retain the visage of how it used to look in the mid Yedo Period (1603-1867), and they are designated as national important cultural assets.)
Buddhism first arrived in Japan in the 6th century from China, a thousand years after its founding in India.
Long ago, animal sacrifice was practiced at Shinto shrines, with horses being the first-class item. Because they were pretty expensive and out of the reach of most people, there gradually arose a custom of sacrificing artistic representations of horses instead of the real thing.
Shingon arose in Japan's Heian period (794-1185) when the great monk Kukai went to China from 804 to 806 to study esoteric Buddhism. He developed his own synthesis of esoteric practice and doctrine, centred on the cosmic Buddha Vairocana.