Fuku-Ura, Matsushima and Daruma
Fukuura-Jima – Insel Fukuura with Daruma Dolls
Sigrid from Germany has asked about the many little figures of Daruma she saw on her trip to Sendai and from there to the small island of Fukuura (Fuku-Ura, Fukura). She saw them unter fallen trees and in caves. Her Japanese friends did not have any explanation for this.
Fukuura-jima is a small island reached on foot over a vermillion bridge from the nearby temple Zuigan-ji. This island is a natural park where more than 250 different plants are growing. It takes about 1 hour 30 minutes to walk around the island. FUKU means auspicious and URA is a kind of inlet where the sea is quiet.
Beautiful Sunset at Fukuura The Vermillion Bridge
Ａ lot of pictures.
English HP about the area, including the long bridge.
Zuigan-Ji and Godai-Doo 瑞巌寺と五大堂
The temple Zuigan-ji was founded in 828 as a temple of the Tendai Sect of Esoteric Buddhism. It is now one of the most famous Zen temples in Northern Japan, well known for its beautifully painted sliding doors (fusuma).
(check my story about Fusuma
The temple was restored to its present form by the famous feudal lord of Sendai, Date Masamune, around 1600.
As you can see on this link, there are a lot of wodden dolls (kokeshiこけし) in the temple museum. The story about Daruma kokeshi is coming soon.
A short overview of Matsushima
Japanese Links 日本語 with pictures, worth checking just to see the sights.
On the second picture of the following LINK you can see a small temple in honor of the Goddess Benten (Benzaiten 弁天、弁財天), where they sell small wooden Daruma dolls with a whole in the bottom to hold a piece of paper with a written oracle, usually spelling good luck for the future (Daruma-kuji 達磨籤). The oracle papers of the seven Gods of Good Luck (shichi Fukujin) are a speciality of this Benten Temple.
The other picuters give you a small impression of the beauty of this area with its many islands.
For our HAIKU friends
Matsushima Basho Festival and the National Haiku Contest
Basho is a great poet who composed many famous haikus about Matsushima. In the morning, a memorial service is held for Basho at Zuigan-ji Temple. In the afternoon, the National Haiku Contest is held and some famous local poets and renowned poets from central Japan select the best works. Later the winning poems are written on Byoobu (an ornamental folding screen) and exhibited at Kanrantei Matsushima Museum.
Anyone interested is welcomed to participate in this event.
Now let us go back to our Daruma dolls in the area.
On the following link you can even see this picture of this phenomen, it seems some Japanese wondered about this too.
Well, I have this explanation:
Zuigan-Ji is a famous Zen temple and even in the Benten-Hall they sell oracle papers hidden in a little wooden Daruma doll. Concerning the custom of buying an oracle at a temple or shrine, read this:
“Generally known as “God’s oracle” o-mikuji 御神籤, these messages written on a thin piece of washi, replies from Shinto or Buddhist deities, are used to tell the fortunes of those who visit shrines or temples with their problems. The visitor draws a numbered stick from the small opening at one end of a prism-shaped container and exchanges the stick for a mikuji of the corresponding number. If the fortune is less than favorable, the visitor customarily ties the mikuji around a tree branch or in a designated location near the temple or shrine in hope that circumstances will eventually improve.”
(Quite interesting articles made of Japanese ricepaper Washi 和紙)
Since usually you leave your bad luck at the temple, I guess people tend to leave the Daruma dolls which carry the oracle too, to make sure all is left behind. I have a lot of these Daruma-kuji in my museum, they are all a little different in the painting, about 2-3 cm high and come in white, red or wooden color. Daruma-kuji are sold all over Japan, not only at Zen temples, and the dolls are not considered of any worth, they cost about 200 yen, maybe 20 cents only.
I will take up the Daruma-kuji story in more detail at another time.
© Presented by Gabi Greve, GokuRakuAn, May 2004
See also DATE MASAMUNE article in the Daruma Pilgrims
>Fukuura-Jima E Insel Fukuura with Daruma Dolls** ***More about Date Masamune is now HERE
Matsushima and Haiku