The Daikyozan Stupa (and environs)
Added In: Articles › Culture
James F. Goater
Anyone traveling south from Kanayama station, aboard either the Meitetsu train bound for Toyota or the Tokaido line cannot possibly miss the impressive Daikyozan stupa, a few hundred meters south, on the right hand side of the railway. This remarkable edifice is the crowning glory of the Daikyoji temple, built in the Southeast Asian style of Buddhist architecture – anyone who has spent time in Thailand will recognize the similarity. Rising to around 30 meters and accompanied by four subsidiary stupas, the main structure is topped by nine iron rings descending in size, representing the Buddhist heavens. The Daikyoji stupa rests on a huge stone base inside which is an auditorium (1,000 seats) for ceremonies and services. The entire temple compound has various points of interest including a commanding triple-roofed main image hall, the largest of its kind in Nagoya. At the rear of the temple, just across a narrow street, a charming wooden hall was constructed a few years ago to house a huge sleeping Buddha statue – surpassed in length only by a similar statue in the Tokugenji temple in Higashi-ward. It is possible to enter this hall and approach the statue, unlike the Tokugenji figure, which is off-limits to the casual visitor, and must be viewed from the doorway. Re-entering the main Daikyoji compound the giant multi-legged bell tower is worth a look, together with a small Shinto shrine, off to the side. However, the rather cartoonish “peace elephant” situated in front of the main image hall, is not worth inspection, seeming to be more suited for the kindergarten nearby! The entire site dates back only to 1913, but is already planning its centenary, 5 year’s hence.
I had long admired the view of this stupa and its elegant temple environment, particular looking south from the Yaguma-dori bridge, just beyond Kanayama station, considering it one of the best panoramas in an otherwise drab cityscape*. But sadly, the owners of a plot of land adjacent to the temple had rather different concerns and in a remarkably short period of time erected a 15-story apartment block (grotesquely named “D’GRANSE SOTODOI”), only 50 meters from the temple. This unwelcome blot on the horizon of course is of no architectural interest, but the over-riding irony is that at the same time as despoiling the general panoramic view of the Daikyozan stupa, the “mansion’s” owners can capitalize handsomely on the location by advertising the magnificent temple vistas available from the building’s southwest-facing windows!
* A glowing exception to the cityscape’s general drabness, it must be admitted, is the innovative Mode Gakuen Spire, just south of Nagoya Station’s twin towers and the Midland Square edifice. Recently completed, the spire must be among the most adventurous structures in the country. Its sweeping curves and triangular windows, beautifully illuminated in blue light after nightfall, are a welcome addition to Nagoya’s skyline.