them to the hills behind the temple,” Chiba, general affairs director at Zuigan-ji informed. “It was very cold and also started to snow and the conditions were not good, so we moved the people to the temple after the tsunami had passed.” Chiba was in constant touch with the authorities and was getting updates from the radio broadcasts. After the waters had subsided, he went to the local government offices and arranged for a bus to evacuate the tourists. Call it divine intervention, mystery of the unknown – people’s faith in Zuigan-ji is steadfast as the rocky edifice of the complex itself. The temple has gone through its metamorphosis. The presentday building was completed in 1609 by Date Masamune. The structure is in the ornate Momoyama style, used by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, supreme warlord of Japan in the latter half of the 16th century. Inside the main building are rich and ornately decorated rooms. The Peacock Room in the main hall is the focal point where the royalty presided, rich and bright colours, ornate walls and high ceilings, personified as the sanctum sanctorum. “There were no peacocks here when the first panel was painted,” Chiba said, pointing to the artist’s rendition of this royal bird. “Subsequently,” he added, “more paintings were added, which were more realistic representations.” The main building reopened to the public after restoration in April 2016. Zuigan-ji encapsulates the essence of the Momoyama era – the carvings and paintings representing the confluence of nature with man’s creations. A wooden marker outside the gates of Zuigan-ji shows where the waters of tsunami stopped – a testament that there are nuances that are beyond realm of moral souls, Matsushima and its people have lived that fateful day. “Every morning, we are bornagain,” once said Gautam Buddha, founder of Buddhism. “What we do today is what matters most.”
The visit to Japan is part of ‘Pacific Islands and Caribbean Journalists’ Programme’ organised by the Tokyo based Association for Promotion of International Co-operation (APIC) with support from Foreign Press Centre, Japan.
Zuigan-ji priest Yoichi Chiba.
Wooden marker at Zuigan-ji, the destructive Tsunami waves of March 3, 2011 stopped right there.