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LastUpDate: April 3, 2014
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Hakata Culture vol.86


Hakata Sennennomon Gate

Hakata Sennennomon Gate image


In 1242, Enni Ben'en (posthumous name: Shouichi Kokushi) founded Jotenji Temple, a place with deep ties to Hakata-ori textiles and the presumed origin of the Hakata Yamakasa festival. It is said that the Yamakasa began when Enni had locals carry him around on a shelf for offerings to segaki ("hungry ghosts") so he could sprinkle holy water to ward off an epidemic. Meanwhile, the traditional patterns used for Hakata-ori textiles are said to be based on Buddhist altar goods proposed by Enni.


Located near Hakata Station, Jotenji Temple is a popular destination due to its striking temple gate and buildings, not to mention a beautiful rock garden. Unfortunately, the temple grounds ended up bisected by a road when the area was rezoned in 1963 to accommodate the move of Hakata Station to its present day location. Fukuoka City decided to build the Hakata Sennennomon Gate to enhance the appeal of the area's historical and cultural value. The gate, which will welcome visitors to Hakata's temple district, is slated for completion this spring.


The gate blends harmoniously with the surrounding landscape, measuring roughly eight meters tall and eight meters wide. The tiled hip-and-gable roof made from Japanese cypress gives the gate a truly dignified air. The site is located near where the Tsujinodokuchimon Gate, an important gateway to Hakata in the Edo Period, once stood. To keep this historical name alive, the Hakata Sennennomon Gate will also carry the name of Tsujinodokuchimon.


The name plate on the gate was written by Xie Jing, the abbot of the Wanshou Zen Monastery-he temple in China were Enni once studied Zen Buddhism. The temple burned to the ground after Enni returned to Japan, and sources say he sent wood from Hakata to help rebuild it. In a sense, the name plate serves as a gift to repay Enni's kindness more than 700 years later. The four characters in the inscription mean "may you prosper for 1,000 or even 10,000 years"



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時を越えてよみがえる博多千年門(はかたせんねんのもん)

 聖一国師が開山した承天寺は、博多を代表する祭り「博多祇園山笠」の発祥地であり、博多織ともゆかりの深いお寺です。聖一国師が疫病退散のために、施餓鬼(せがき)棚に乗って祈祷水を振りまいたことが山笠の起源とされ、また博多織の伝統的な柄は聖一国師が提案した仏具がもとになっているといわれます。

 承天寺は博多駅にも近く、見事な山門や仏殿、美しい石庭があるため、今では博多めぐりのスポットのひとつになっています。ただ、残念なことに昭和38年に博多駅移転にともなう区画整理で、境内が一本の道路で分断されてしまいました。この歴史的にも文化的にも価値ある地域をさらに魅力あるものにしようと、建設されることになったのが「博多千年門」。博多の寺社町へのウエルカム・ゲートとして、この春完成してお披露目されます。

 周囲の景観と調和した博多千年門は、高さ・幅とも約8メートル、ヒノキを使った木造切妻本瓦葺きで実に堂々としたもの。江戸時代、この付近には実際に辻堂口門(つじのどうぐちもん)という門があり、博多の重要な出入り口とされていました。歴史的名称を残そうと、「博多千年門」に加えて「辻堂口門」という名前も持っています。

 博多千年門に掲げられた扁額は、聖一国師が修行した中国の禅寺「萬壽(まんじゅ)寺」の戒興(かいこう)住職が書いたもの。萬壽寺は聖一国師が帰国後に火災に遭い、博多から再建用に木材を送ったそうです。今回、700年以上の時を経て、そのお返しとして書が贈られることになりました。「萬年正續(まんねんしょうぞく)」と書かれ、「千年も万年も長きにわたり栄えるように」という意味があるそうです。