Manno-ike Pond in Manno-cho, Nakatadotsu-gun, Kagawa Prefecture is the largest irrigation pond in Japan. It has the maximum water storage volume of 1,540 tons. It has been called by its nickname “Manno Taro.”
It is said that the pond was constructed in the Daido era (701-704) by the lord of Sanuki province, Michimori Ason. It can be said that the history of Manno-ike Pond is that of its repair works.
In 818, it was destroyed by a flood for the first time and left abandoned until in 821, when Kobo Daishi was sent as the construction supervisor by the emperor of the time. It is well-known that Kobo Daishi repaired and expanded the pond in only 3 months.
However, the pond was repeatedly destroyed by floods in the later periods. In 1625, Nishijima Hachibei, an expert civil engineer and a retainer of the province lord, took up a repair work and completed it in 1631. Still in the later periods, the pond had been destroyed by flood or earthquakes several times and had been repaired by the efforts of many people. It was lastly repaired to the present form in 1942.
Yatsuhashizan Muryojuji Temple in Chiryu City, Aichi Prefecture, is a temple of the Myoshinji school of the Rinzai sect. It was founded as the temple named “Ryounji” in 704 but the founder is unknown. In 822, the priest of the Shingon sect, Mitsuen, moved the temple to the present place and renamed it “Muryojuji.” The temple was converted again to the Rinzai sect by the priest Genten in 1670.
Muryojuji Temple is famous for Kakitsubata, or the rabbit-ear iris (Iris laevigata Fisch.), about which Ariwara no Narihira wrote a poem in the Chapter 9 “Yatsuhashi” of his famous “Ise Monogatari (the Tales of Ise).” In 1812, the iris garden was built after the design by Hogan Baisa, a master of the Sencha tea ceremony. This iris garden is now arranged into a famous iris garden named Yatsuhashi Iris Garden, where the city’s biggest event, Iris Festival, is held from the end of April through the middle of May every year. It may be nice to write a poem like Ariwara no Narihira, viewing lovely iris flowers.
Henjoin Temple in Chiryu City, Aichi Prefecture, is a temple of the Shingon sect. It is a historic temple founded by Kobo Daishi Kukai. It is said that, in 822, Kobo Daishi carved the three self-portrait statues and founded three temples, which are now called “Mikawa 3 Kobo Holy Temples.” Henjoin Temple is the 1st of the 3 Holy Temples. The statue has been treasured as the principal image of worship. As it is kept as a hibutsu (secret Buddha statue), it is displayed only on March 21 on the lunar calendar, the obit of Kobo Daish. It is popularly called “Mikaeri (Looking-back) Kobo Daishi.”
Passing through the old main gate, you will find a large precinct with many halls and statues including the bell tower. You can experience “Kaidan-meguri,” a tour in the dark underneath the altar in the main hall. The fair is held on the monthly obit of the Kobo Daish, when the street from Chiryu Station to the temple is lined with outdoor stalls and bustled with people.
Saicho was a Japanese Buddhist monk of the early Heian period (794-1192) and the founder of the Tendai sect of Japanese Buddhism. Saicho was born in Omi province in 767. Being the descendant of Chinese immigrant family, Saicho’s worldly name was Mitsunoobito Hirono. He entered the priesthood at Kokubunji Temple in Omi province when he was 14 and was given the name, Saicho.
At the age of 19, he was ordained at Todaiji Temple in Nara, but he was disenchanted with the worldliness of the Nara priesthood. In 788, he founded a small temple, Ichijo Shikanin (present Enryakuji Temple) on Mt. Hiei, where he trained himself for 12 years until he attained enlightenment. This 12 years of seclusion at Mt. Hiei has become a system to be retained in positions in the monastery up to the present time.
In 804, Saicho was sent to china, where he mastered the four teachings of En (perfect teaching), Mitsu (esotericism), Kai (precepts) and Zen (meditation). After returning to Japan, he founded the Tendai sect of Japan with the backing of Emperor Kanmu.
His writings include “the Sange Gakusho Shiki (Rules for Tendai students),” “the Kenkairon (Treatise elucidating the precepts)” and “the Naisho Buppo Kechimyakufu.” He died at Chudoin Temple in Mt. Hiei in 822. 44 years after his death, he was awarded the posthumous title of Dengyo Daishi.
Jigenin Temple in Hineno, Izumisano City, Osaka Prefecture, is a temple belonging to the Omuro School of the Shingon Sect of Buddhism. The principal object of worship is Dainichi Nyorai. It is the 12th temple of the 18 Holy Places of Butto-koji (Old Temples with Pagodas).
The temple was established in 673 by a high-ranked priest named Kakugo by the order of Emperor Tenmu. It is said to be the oldest temple in the Senshu district of Osaka. Later in the Heian period, Kobo Daishi, the founder of the Shingon sect, stayed here and constructed many temple buildings including the original Tahoto pagoda and the Kondo hall.
The present Tahoto pagoda, constructed in 1271, is known for its beauty and compactness. It is said to be one of Japan’s three most distinctive pagodas, and is designated as a National treasure.
It is a 10.8-meter tall two-story pagoda with a cypress bark roof. The veranda without railing is build around the first floor. The door is made of a single, thick wooden plank. Windows with vertical wooden laths called “renji-mado” are set in the upper wall on both sides of the door. The bracket complex is composed of two steps. In the space between the bracket systems on the front side, a frog-leg strut is used for giving an accent. Though small in size, the essence and elegance of Japanese construction is condensed into this small pagoda.
Tatekoshi Shrine located at the top of the hill next to Guzeiji Temple in Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a historic shrine known for housing the guardian god of this area. The enshrined deities are Ukano Mitama no Kami, Omiyahime no Kami and Sarutahiko no Kami.
It is said that Kobodaishi Kukai transferred the deity of Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto to this place and founded this shrine as an attached shrine of the temple when he founded Guzeiji Temple in 811. As the area around the shrine was on the Old Oshu Kaido Road and the Abukuma River, it was called “Tatenokoshi,” which meant “the strategic spot to protect the lord’s residence” from the enemies; hereby the shrine was named Tatekoshi Shrine. In 1867, the shrine was separated from the temple according to the ban of Shinbutsu Shugo (the fusion of Shinto and Buddhism) by the Meiji government.
At the entrance of the shrine is a unique stone lantern erected in 1924. The lantern is supported by four Sumo wrestlers and a fox is placed inside the lantern. The main gate and shrine pavilions were burned down by fires and the present buildings were all constructed in the Showa period.
Saifukuji Temple in Kariya City, Aichi Prefecture, is a temple of the Soto sect. It is a historic temple founded by Kobo Daishi Kukai. The principal object of worship is Amida Nyorai. It is the 2nd temple of the Mikawa 3 Kobo Holy Temples.
It is said that Kobo Daishi carved the three self-portrait statues and founded three temples in this area in 822. The statue housed at Saifukuji Temple is popularly called “Miokuri (Seeing-Off) Kobo Daishi.”
During the Kansei era (1460-1463), Saifukuji Temple and the adjacent Unryoin Temple were destroyed by fire, after which the two temples were left unrestored and the principal images were placed in Kusayoshi-do Hall in the vicinity. In 1595, the priest Denshi Tekko restored the temple, which was named Unryoin Saifukuji Temple.
The present main hall was constructed in 1789. Beautifully trimmed pine trees surround the hall and the front approach. Next to the main gate stands a small hall housing Daikokuten, the god of happiness.
Takeda Hachiman Shrine is located in Kamiyama-machi, Nirasaki City, Yamanashi Prefecture. It was founded in 822, when the deity of Usa Hachiman was transferred to this place under the order of Emperor Saga.
It is said that the shrine is the birthplace of the Takeda clan, because Genpuku (a traditional Japanese coming-of-age ceremony) of Minamoto no Nobuyoshi took place at this shrine and he renamed himself Takeda Nobuyoshi and became the founder of the clan. Four deities including Takeda Take no Okami and Honda Wake no Mikoto are enshrined.
From the Torii gate, the front approach runs straight to Honden (the main hall) at the foot of the mountain. Honden (the main hall), which was reconstructed in 1541 by Takeda Shingen, is a 3-bay building in Nagare-zukuri style with a cypress bark roof. Elaborate decorative designs are given to every part of the building. It is designated as a National Important Cultural Property.