Oshokyoin Temple located in Nakauchida, Kikugawa City, Shizuoka Pref. is a temple of the Jodo sect. The principal object of worship is the statue of Amida Nyorai (quasi national treasure). The temple originates in Tengakuin Temple of the Tendai sect, which was established in 855 by the priest Jikaku Daishi as an Imperial prayer temple for Emperor Montoku. Later, Honen Shonin (1133-1212), the founder of the Jodo sect Buddhism, placed the statue of Amida here to the memory of his teacher, Koen Ajari, who was said to have transformed himself into the Ryujin (dragon god) to save people in Sakuragaike Pond in the neighboring town. The temple sect was changed from the Tendai sect to the Jodo sect and its name was also changed from Tengakuin to Oshokyoin at this time.
Oshokyoin is a branch temple of Chioin Temple in Kyoto. It is also known as the fudasho (a visiting place for pilgrims) for those who are born in the year of dragon and snake in Enshu (present-day Shizuoka Pref.) area. The temple possesses the manuscript of the Koen Ajari legend and the statue of Hafuki Amida Nyorai (Amida with mouth open). Up the stone steps at the entrance stands the Sanmon Gate (the temple gate), which was erected by the 2nd Shogun, Tokugawa Hidetada. In the precinct are full of unique objet d'art such as Nonbei Jizo (Bottle-man Jizo). There are also two of the Seven Wonders in Enshu, Mitabi-guri (a chestnut tree producing chestnuts three times a year) and Kataba-no-Ashi (the reed grass that has leaves on only one side of the stem).
Shinran was a Japanese Buddhist monk of the early Kamakura period (1192-1333) and the founder of the Jodo Shinshu of japanese Buddhism. Born in Hino (now a part of Fushimi, Kyoto) in 1173, Shinran had been a monk of the Tendai school of Buddhism at Mt. Hiei, where he studied for 20 years since he was at the age of nine. In 1201, Shinran met Honen and became his disciple. He arrived at the conviction that “Tariki Nenbutsu (reciting Buddhist invocation to takes refuge in the other power of Amida Buddha)” is the only way to lead us to the Pure Land.
Shinran together with the desciples of Honen spread this new doctorine in the streets of Kyoto, but their movement was banned by the Imperial court. Eight monks including Honen and Shinran were exiled. Shinran was sent to Echigo province (present-day Niigata Prefecture) and was stripped of his religious name.
After Shinran was pardoned, he left for Hitachi province (present-day Ibaraki Prefecture), where he spent 20 years being engaged in missionary works. He took a stand that he was neither a monk nor a layman.
In 1224, he authored his most significant text, “Kyogyoshinsho,” which is a series of selections and commentaries on Buddhist sutras pertinent to Pure Land Buddhism. The sayings of Shinran, “the Tannisho (the Lamentations of Divergences)” is still read by many people today.
In 1234, Shinran returned to Kyoto, where he died in 1263 at the age of 90. The Japanese imperial court awarded Shinran the honorific designations “Kenshin Daishi (Great Teacher Kenshin)” in 1876.
Mt. Hiei is covered with forests of old-growth cedars and fir trees, which are left intact since the ancient times. The whole mountain belongs to Enryakuji temple, which was founded by the monk Saicho and has served as the headquarters of the Tendai sect. It is considerd to be the most important mountain in the establishment of Japnese Buddhism, because Honen, the founderof Jodo Sect, Shinran, the founder of Jodo Shin-shu Sect, Eisai, the founder of Rinzai Sect, Dogen, the founder of Sodo Sect, and Nichiren, the founder of Nichiren-shu Sect all trained themselves in this mountain when young. The trees in the smoky mist looks especially beautiful. “Forest on Mt. Hiei” is counted as one of Eight Views of Lake Biwa. The halls of Enryakuji Temple surrounded with old-growth trees in smoky mist create mysterious and fantastic atmosphere.
Honen-in is a temple located in Sakyo-ku, Kyoto. In the early Edo period, in 1680, Banbu Shonin of Chio-in conceived the construction of this temple in memory of Hone Shonin. Banbu's disciple, Nincho Osho, carried out its construction.
The temple stands deep in the mountains behind a gate. In a word, it is 'simple'. But once you enter the temple, you will feel a taste and elegance quite different from the outside. After passing through the gate, rectangular sandhills called 'White Sand Dan' will appear on either side. There is a narrow path between them. 'Suna Dan' stands for 'water', so you will purify your mind and body by passing between them.
There is a camellia garden in the north part of the main building and three major camellias are planted here. In fact, Honen-in is known as 'camellia temple' and a beautiful camellia carpet appears in the temple when the camellia shed their flowers in the middle of April.
The red leaves of autumn look well-balanced and the red leaves on the circular sand pools in the stone garden look especially beautiful.