Godaido – Divinity Personified

by Amitabh Sharma

The land of the rising sun has distinct nuances that permeates in the air and meets the eye – humility, meticulousness, precision and spirituality. Each intertwined by threads of unequivocal faith, woven by the invisible hands of the Supreme Being.
Godiado, an icon of that city, sits on a small island off the coast of Matsushima in north Japan. It is one of the country’s most scenic spots and also famous for cultivation of oysters.
There is something magnetic about this temple, which attracts scores of visitors, who cross a wooden bridge that connects the island where Godiado stands with the mainland.
Walking on this bright red painted, arched channel, one can see the sea waters splashing on the rocky edifice.
The wooden building has distinct architecture, arched roof, lattice façade, the work is intricate yet simple and minimalist – incorporating the inherent Japanese characteristics.
The present building, which was built by local ruler Date (pronounced Da –Tay) Masamune in 1604, has aged over the centuries. The surface of the building bearing the distinct hues etched by Mother Nature – saline water, sunshine, rain and snow.
Visitors make a beeline to the shrine, their steps crackling on the gravel surface, as the waves splash on the island’s rocky surface, and the sounds of the seagulls in the distant permeates in the air.
The sanctum sanctorum is abode to five Nyorai statues (derived from Sanskrit, ancient language of India, and used in reference to Buddha, the enlightened and the omnipresent one), installed in 828 AD.
These statues are opened for public viewing once in 33 years, the last time it was in 2006.
Devotees, light incense sticks, fold their hands and say their solemn prayers before bowing and placing the incense sticks on a wooden container before taking a walk around the temple. The wooden container bears small carvings of the twelve creatures of the zodiac.
Godiado is a living example of the influence of Buddhism in Japanese culture and society. Nothing ostentatious, devoid of any flamboyant rituals, the recognition of the divine forces of the universe is in the fabric of life and being in Japan. Through this harmony, the country has withstood natural calamities that have struck, with Zen as their saviour and guiding light. (Zen is a derivative from ancient India, Dhyan, which means deep in meditation, abject concentration and synergies of one’s positive energies).
The date March 11, 2011, is etched in living memory, when the world sat transfixed as video feed of the devastating Tsunami, which engulfed the region, hit.
In Matsushima, mother nature’s fury was minimal, Matsushima locals attributed it to the divine presence and intervention, that looked upon the people, which saved them from the catastrophic waves.
“It is the power of Jizo (Buddhist deity, who is protector of the vulnerable, especially children, travellers, and expectant mothers) and the god of Shiyogama that saved us,” Yuasa Tsunoda, a tour guide, said.
Godiado was unscathed; the power of Zen, the serenity it exudes, perhaps calmed the fury of the Tsunami waves that stopped at the gate of Zuigan-ji temple, which is walking distance away.
Mystery of the unexplained for many, perhaps, but the presence of the forces of divinity reaffirmed faith of the people of Matsushima, and God’s abundant blessings.
As one walks away from this shrine, one is blessed by the calm, soothing, serene energies; feelings that are hard to explain, but resonate in one’s mind, body and spirit. |P|

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