The picture above is , as you may know, our Zenkoji temple in one Winter day this January.
My husband and I explored the main street up to Zenkoji that day to seek solace for the loss of our Obaa-chan, his mom.
My mother- in-law, who lived with us, was very healthy till she suddenly passed away last December at the age of 98.
Shocked as we were, our family decided that her death was a happy one since it was natural and without suffering from illness.
15 minutes down the mainstreet from Zenkoji, or rather, 5 minutes up the street from the JR Nagano station, there is a small temple called Saikoji, Karukaya-san.
Saikoji temple is popular for the story telling by the wives of the chief priest and the vice chief priest, who are a father and a son, using the temple’s historical picture scrolls.
We asked the elder wife to introduce us to her story telling, especially of the scroll picture depicting judgement scenes for the deads after their death.
Frankly, the picture is one of those generally called, “Jigoku-e”, or hell picture, and very gruesomely impressive. So if the lady hadn’t explained us properly that all the depictions of the hell are that of our own vice inside our mind, we would have come out of the temple worried about our Obaa-chan’s journey after her death.
These picture scrolls began being painted husdreds of years ago in order to preach sermon to people who were often illiterate. The scrolls in Saikoji temple are some of such copies.
It is worth seeing them. You can just peek inside the main hall of the temple for free. If you want the story telling, you can ask them by knocking their residence on the right hand side of the main hall. To listen to the story, you will need 300~500 yen/person. According to the length of the story. the story takes 30~60 minutes.( In Japanese only)