On the lighter side of things, during our trip to Japan this year, we went to the temple of Kawasaki Daishi for Hatsumode, the first temple visit of the new year. Kawasaki Daishi is a pretty famous temple of the Shingon sect in the Greater Tokyo Metropolitan area. While there I got a new Buddhist rosary, or ojuzu (お数珠):
Some Buddhist rosaries in Japan, like this one, have pictures inside the largest bead:
This is a fuzzy picture of Kūkai (空海), founder of the Shingon Buddhism, but in Japan he’s more commonly known by his posthumous name kōbō daishi (弘法大師) which roughly translates to Great Master who spread the Dharma [the Buddha’s teachings]. In Japanese culture Kobo Daishi is kind of a cultural hero similar to Wonhyo in Korea or St. Patrick in Ireland.
Anyway, my five year old daughter was fascinated by the rosary and Kobo Daishi and one day she said out of the blue:
Kobo Daishi has 100 swords, and can shoot fireballs, spaghetti balls and apple sauce balls. He can squish bad guys with a big tree.
I asked her again and she repeated this. Another week or two passed, and I asked her again and she still repeated the same story. She likes to use her imagination a lot when she describes her toys, but I was surprised she was so enthusiastic about Kobo Daishi.
So in the eyes of my daughter, Kobo Daishi isn’t just a Buddhist monk who formalized Vajrayana teachings and training in Japan, and administered construction projects, he “fights the bad guys” and has cool powers:
Somehow it sounds like he’s a character from some character from a video-fighting game like Street Fighter 2, as my “artwork” above shows. HA-DOO-KEN!
Namu Daishi Henjo Kongo
P.S. when we visited Fukagawa Daishi temple with Marcus, she had similar, silly ideas.