Ryozen Kannon Memorial for WWII
By Jim Caldwell
Nestled at the foot of Kyoto’s eastern mountains, in the Higashiyama district, is Ryozen Kannon, the Japanese war memorial commemorating their soldiers who sacrificed themselves in “the last war”, World War II. Modeled by Choun Yamazaki and built by Hirosuke Ishikawa, the Ryozen Kannon’s center piece is an 80 foot (24 meters) tall, 500 ton statue of Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara.
Bodhisattva in Buddhism means an enlightened (bodhi) existence (sattva) or an enlightenment-being
Avalokiteśvara is one of the more widely revered bodhisattvas in mainstream Mahayana Buddhism. Avalokiteśvara broken down ava means “down”; lokita “to notice, behold, observe”; and, vara meaning “lord”, “ruler”, “sovereign” or “master”. Combined, the parts mean “lord who gazes down (at the world)”.
Unveiled on June 8, 1955, the statue has been dedicated both as a memorial and to the “establishment of a peaceful Japan”.
Aside from the main temple hosting the Kannon, the memorial has quite a few other dedications to peace and the lost lives. The inside of the Kannon statue, itself, is hollow and maybe accessed by walking around the back side of the building.
Beneath Kannon is the shrine dedicated to Bodhisattva Ekādaśamukha with his twenty-eight disciples. Also there are memorial tablets dedicated to two million Japanese who died in the last war. The tablets are filed by village or city. Memorial services are conducted four times a day.
Rozen also has another hall, The Memorial hall, with a monument to the second world war’s unknown soldier and the more than 48,000 foreign soldiers who died on Japanese territory.
The Entrance fee is 200 yen
or click on a gallery photo to see the Ryozen Kannon slide show.