We were exploring Enoshima Island with some friends when we smelled some incense and heard some chanting. We decended down the stairs to the round Saikufuji Temple, or Enoshima Daishi, overlooking the Sagami-wan (bay), turned a corner, and found this Aji-kan Meditation mid-session.
The fire burns at the feet of Fudo, a six-meter tall statue of the scariest Buddhist deity, which combats evil. It succeeds in scaring me. Petitioners write prayers on prayer sticks which are burned during the meditation. This is the same thing that was going on in this Kawasaki temple (it freaked me out then too). These same prayer sticks adorn most graves in any given cemetery. Cemeteries here—not scary. Like I’ve said before, no skeletons to worry about because everyone is nicely cremated. The moon below and the character within it is called the Aji-kan Honzon. For this meditation, you get in position, start your meditation breathing and focus solely on the patern. Then you expand it in your mind larger and larger until it becomes the universe and thus you may look at yourself and feel the Buddha. This is the method of Shingon Mikkyo, Japanese Esoteric Buddhism. This is different from Zen meditation, by the way. Much scarier in execution! The smoke filled the dome and whisps of incense and smoke curled above the heads of the people inside until big clouds of it billowed out the door.