Toganji Temple – The Giant Buddha Hand Temple of Nagoya
Toganji is a Buddhist temple situated in the Motoyama area of Nagoya. Not so far from the Motoyama subway station, we could see the huge Buddha statue head over the trees as we walked for about 5 minutes. Unlike other places, it is not at all crowded with tourists. The entire temple area is always quiet. Even though we could see this temple among the list of tourist attractions of Nagoya, it is not at all reflected once we reach here. It is even difficult to track the entrance of the temple as there are not enough visitors. Like in a Japanese shrine, two guard lion dogs or komainu could be seen on both sides in front of the entrance gate.
A long pathway leading to the temple main hall has a traditional Japanese style garden with pine and other trees. The pavement has diamond shaped stones arranged all along the way. Many rock sculptures and some god idols could be seen in this garden space. A greenish colored Shiv linga placed over a big rock is also seen here. The main hall of this temple is small with golden colors inside it that resemble Chinese temples.
Benzaitensama, the goddess of education and music is the main deity enshrined here. Some statues of snakes, goddesses of Lamaism are also found inside the main hall. Many paintings are at the ceiling of the main hall building. Painted statues of some goddesses, wooden boards and metal plates with prayers written on it could be also found. A wooden structure with some shapes carved on it is placed here. Touching this sacred wooden block is believed to wash away your past sins. Above the main hall building, there is a small pagoda also. A bell tower holding a huge bell placed inside is also situated in the temple area.
The huge Buddha statue is situated at the foot of the temple yard area which is covered with trees. A stone pavement with a number of stairs leading to this place directs us to the Buddha statue. On both sides of this path, we could find a bamboo forest along with some other trees.
Opposite to this place, we could see a cemetery. The statue of Lord Buddha found here has a green color with closed eyes and the palms holding the 'dharma chakra pravarthana mudra' (symbol meaning the wheel of justice). The lips, eye and a spot on the forehead of the statue are golden colored. This 10 meter tall statue also holds some small statues of elephants around it. At the foot of the Buddha statue there are some monks with folded hands, a deer, peacock, Ashok Chakra, etc. The palms of this Buddha holding the mudra has a golden colored icon of Ashok Chakra on it. A small incense burner is placed in front of the statue. An enlarged left palm of this statue could be seen placed opposite to the Buddha statue over a rock. The Buddha statue, the palm as well as the Shiv Linga are bronze made. The small yard around this statue has an area with thick bamboo trees. There are some cat and dog sculptures seen along with this. It is a grave of the dead pets.
May 7th and 8th are the special days of the Touganji temple. The temple’s festival for honouring Benzaitensama is conducted on these days.
The structures and concepts including the goddess Benzaitensama (‘Saraswathi’ – the Hindu goddess of art and education), snake statues, Shiv Linga, Ashok chakra, etc., that are found here tells some relation of Touganji Temple with Indian temples and culture.
A main difference I could find here when compared to other locations in Japan is the lack of souvenir shops or other stalls near the temple.