EKŌ-Temple

EKŌ-Tempel

In the middle of the altar room, on the same axis as the second section of the garden path, stands a wooden sculpture of the Buddha Amida. The side-altar to its right contains a portrait of Shinran, who in the 13th century gave the teachings of the Buddha Amida their definitive form in Japan. The left side-altar has an image of Rennyo; in the 15th century, as head (Monshu) of the Shinran-school, he was responsible for giving it further significant impetus. In the side-room on the right is a hanging scroll with a further image of Prince Shōtoku. The side-room on the left is for paying reverence to the "Seven Patriarchs" of Shin-Buddhism: from India, Nâgârjuna (around 200 AD) and Vasubandhu (5th C.); from China, Tanluan (476-542), Daochuo (562-645) and Shandao (613-681); and from Japan, Genshin (942-1017) and Hōnen (1133-1212), Shinran's teacher.

Above the entrance to the altar room, in the centre, are written the two characters "E-KŌ". They are taken from a long passage in praise of the Light of Amida, in one of the three founding texts of Pure Land Buddhism, with the meaning "Luminous Splendour" or "Bestowing Light". The dominant colour in the altar room is gold. One the one hand, it derives from the traditional palace architecture of China and Korea; but at the same time, here it can also be thought of as the colour of the "Pure Land in the West", the colour whose brilliance and splendour is that of the ever-present light of the Buddha, greeting all creatures as they approach.

The paintings on the sliding doors either side of the entrance depict scenes from the "Pure Land". The purely gilded background seen here is known in Japan on standing screens from as early as the 14th century. Such paintings belong to the older, aristocratic tradition of kachōga,"Flower and Bird" painting. The cliffs, stands of bamboo, and fields and streams set on the uniformly wide borderless gold ground of such screens give the flat gold expanse an impression of depth, and move the scene depicted - here with peacocks, which the founding texts of Shin-Buddhism tell us live in the "Pure Land", and with peonies - into the foreground, closer to the viewer. According to an ancient Indian legend, the peacock will eat snakes whose poison would be fatal for any human being, without itself being harmed; hence it has the saving qualities of a Bodhisattva. The origins of multi-coloured paintings in which peacocks appear on a gold background as inhabitants of Amida's Pure Land are to be found in the Kanô-School of the 15th century. The costliness and luxuriant growth of the peony was already associated in China with abundant nourishment and prosperity; in Japan it had connections with the coat-of-arms of a number of aristocratic families as well.

Peacock and peony together reappear also, in different variations, in the horizontal open work sections above the door panels.

In the basement of the temple there is a hall with adjustable altar, suitable for ceremonies and practices of other Buddhist schools.

About Us

  • About us
    • About Us

      In 1993 in Niederkassel, a suburb of Düsseldorf, a Japanese cultural centre was opened: the...

    • Buddhismus (Instruction)

      Buddhism with its various schools has occupied a leading role in the history of Japanese culture....

    • EKŌ-Kindergarten

      A warm welcome! Konnichi wa! Our international kindergarten is a German–Japanese co–educative...

    • EKŌ-Temple

      In the middle of the altar room, on the same axis as the second section of the garden path, stands a...

    • Guided Tours

      The EKŌ-House consists of a Buddhist temple, a Japanese garden, a house in the traditional style,...

    • Library

      Situated in the Kyōsei–kan building, the library was opened to the general public in 2001. It...

    • Publication

      For our publication please see Publikationen...

    • The Japanese Garden

      The temple grounds are entered through the "Mountain Gate" - also referred to as the...

    • The Japanese House

      The standard construction unit of what was previously the guesthouse is the Tatami-mat (just 90 x...