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Shinden Emma-O

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The Temple to Emma-O was built in the very place where legends said the monk Yama transformed into the Judge of Meido, Emma-O. A twisted willow tree grew with one hundred and seven branches, the numbers of days spent by Yama meditating in his pursue of enlightenment, before he was killed by bandits. [1] It was once the site of an Emperor's funeral. [2]

Surroundings Edit

The temple stood in the mouth of a steep valley, surrounded by forests, with a stream running through it and emptying into a shallow lake, the Heaven's Mirror. The castle Kyuden Kurogane-Hana was built around the shrine. [3]

Notable Locations Edit

  • The Temple Walls: the thick stone walls, painted and lacquered black to resemble the wood of ebony, formed a great centralized courtyard. Usually, temple designs added two gateways to allow for a flow of positive energy. The second was omitted for this temple, however; once one had passed through the gates of death, only the weight of karma could provide another way back. [2]
  • The Shrine to Emma-O: was built around the sacred willow where legend said the monk Yama became the Fortune of Death. A representation of the entrance to Meido was completed with a statue of Emma-O. [2]
  • The Gardens of Meido: the south-east corner of the complex contained a rock garden,

a sea of raked sand beds and mounds, standing rocks, and pebble-sewn pathways, depicting the landscape of Meido. [2]

  • The Lecture Hall: contained living quarters for the monks. [2]
  • The Library: adjacent to the Lecture Hall, contained records of the castle's history, family genealogies for the daimyo's line, and a vast array of theological and philosophical texts. [2]
  • The So-Do: a hall dedicated to sitting meditation. It also had a hidden entrance to the catacombs. [4]
  • The Catacombs and Secret Exit Chamber: urns and ashes of many samurai rested there, including one Emperor. A subterranean network of tunnels and passages connected it to the castle, and another gateway opened to a tunnle which emerged into to Seto no Mori in a hidden grove near Heaven's Mirror Lake. [4]


  1. Book of Air, p. 136
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Book of Air, p. 148
  3. Book of Air, p. 135
  4. 4.0 4.1 Book of Air, p. 149

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