Sunday, September 20, 2015

Story of Tamateru-hime -----the way people cherish and enshrine a historical icon---

Tamateru-hime, who is enshrined in Senzo-in Temple, was extraordinarily beautiful and intelligent, but was treated miserably by her stepmother.

One rainy day, a young noble court man happened to see her put her own straw hat on a rain–soaked Buddhist statue in the street to protect it from the rain. He was very much impressed with her piety and finally married her.

Only once in every eight years, the original statue of Tamateru-hime is open to the public.
At the same time a huge amount of white cotton strings, called “Oteito” in Japanese, are connected together to make a long rope.

One end is tied around Tamateru-hime’s finger and it is run all the way across the temple precinct and the other end is finally attached to the front gate.
Visitors feel close to Tamateru-hime by touching the strings connected to her, and pray to lead a happy life just as Tamateru-hime did.

At the time this ritual started in Senzo-in Temple a long time ago, local people brought plain white cotton -- enough to make a kimono about 12 meters long -- to the temple.
They wrote their own names on the cotton and tied the pieces together one after another to make long ropes to run through the precinct.

After the ritual was over, the temple priest stamped the temple inscription to purify the cloth and gave it back to each family. They finally made this into a white kimono, namely as a burial vestments, to help one’s soul reach heaven safely.

Or pregnant women used this purified cloth simply to bundle their swollen bellies, wishing Tamateru-hime would protect young women and ensure they delivered their babies safely.

Regardless of the times, people have been longing for salvation and comfort not only from deities, but also from some outstanding, historical icons.

This is why Tamateru-hime and her Cinderella story have been cherished by many people especially young women over the centuries.

Senzo-in Temple stands in the south of Nagoya as one of the twelve sub temples to support Kasadera Temple. Kasadera Temple which belongs to the Shingon sect of Buddhism was the southernmost of the “Four Guardian Temples” surrounding Nagoya Castle. Kasadera Temple used to form a large temple town with its 12 disciple temples being stood side by side. It is said that Tamateru-hime and her husband made a great amount of donation to re-build Kasadera Temple.  It was renovated and well-maintained by the happy noble couple for the first time in 100 years since the temple was constructed in 736.

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