Itsukushima Shrine in Ena in Matsuzaki Town, Shizuoka Prefecture, is faithfully worshipped by local people, being popularly called “Benten-san.” The enshrined deity is Ichikishimahime no Mikoto, a deity of water, which was traditionally fused with Benzaiten, one of the Seven Gods of Fortune.
The shrine is atop the 100 stone steps directly starting from the beach in the cape called Kyotaijima (Giant Sea-beam Island) or Benten-jima (Benten Island), which is located to the north of Matsuzaki Beach.
It is said that the shrine is founded in 1525 and the door of the main hall is opened once every 60 years. The last time it was opened was in 1992. The annual festival is held on April 3 every year.
The colony of oak trees (Quercus phillyraeoides A.Gray) in Kyotaijima Cape is designated as a natural monument by the town.
Keiko Yoshida is the owner of Yoshida store in Daito-ku, Tokyo, that creates and sells Takarabune-kumade, or Treasure ship rakes, which are sold only at the Tori Fair of Ootori Shrine. Ms Yoshida was born in 1921 and is a master craftswoman recognized by Nihon Shokunin Meikoukai, the association for the Japanese Master Craftsmen.
Yoshida is currently the only store that creates Takarabune-kumade employing traditional methods, and Ms Yoshida continues to use the methods passed down since the Edo period. She initially started making the rakes to help her husband who was originally a carpenter. After his death, she became the head of the store and single-handedly manages the business.
Takarabune-kumade made by Yoshida store uses only natural materials of bamboo and paper. The whole manufacture process including cutting bamboo, cutting paper using a pattern, coloring, drawing faces, painting exterior, and insertion are done by hand. These techniques have been handed down to Ms Yoshida’s daughter, Kyoko.
Tori no Ichi, or Tori Fair, is a religious fair that takes place every November and is believed to have originally started at Ootori Shrine in Asakusa. Takarabune-kumade, or Treasure ship rake, is a harbinger of good luck, coming from a belief that rakes gather up good luck and prosperity, and they are available only at the Tori Fair of Ootori Shrine. The Takarabune rakes are currently made only in Yoshida store in Asakusa. The size of the rakes varies from 6cm to 3.4m. The store starts making the rakes immediately after the fair, taking a whole year to prepare for the following years event.
At first, paper is cut using a pattern, then lines are drawn followed by coloring. After the faces of Shichifukujin or the Seven Deities of Good Fortune, are drawn, they are inserted into the treasure ship with other decorations and finely balanced to finish. Drawing faces with their unique looks for the seven deities is the most difficult part. This hand drawing technique has been passed down for years since the Edo period. It is now practiced by Keiko Yoshida, head of Yoshida store, and her daughter, Kyoko.
Takarabune-kumade has brightly colored decorations of the seven deities, treasures and a sea bream. Although it is a rake with the tip of a straw festoon arranged to look more like a bow of a ship, it is created to have the look of a treasure ship. The rake, with its dominant red color, is referred to as a “red type” amulet. Takarabune-kumade is one of the most popular good luck charms in the Tori Fair of Ootori Shrine.
Sairinji Temple is a Shingon sect temple located in Furuichi, Habikino City, Osaka Pref. The principal image is the standing statue of Yakushi Nyorai. According to the temple record, it originates in Kogenji Temple established by the Kawachi no Fumi clan, the descendents of a Confucian scholar Wang In of Baekje.
The excavated tiles and other items indicate that the temple was established at some time during the Asuka period (the late 6th C. to the early 8th C.). The foundation stone of a pagoda placed in the garden of the temple is nearly 2 m tall and over 27 tons in weight. It is the largest foundation stone of a pagoda identified with the Asuka period. The formal seven buildings had been completed by 679 and it is confirmed that those buildings had existed until 743. Most of the buildings and the pagoda were destroyed by the battles in the Warring States period (1493-1573) and Haibutsu Kishaku (the anti-Buddhism movement) in the Meiji period (1868-1912).
As one of the Kawachi Asuka Shichifukujin (Seven Gods of Good Fortune) temples, Sairinji Temple worships the deity Ebisu, who wears the Kazaori Eboshi (a tall hat) and the Kariginu (hunting garment) with holding a fishing rod and a red sea bream. Sairinji is a temple with a long history since the ancient times.
Shinshoin Temple located in Dai-machi, Hachioji City, Tokyo is a Soto sect temple worshipping Shakamuni Nyorai. As one of Hachioji Shichifukujin (the Seven Lucky Deities), it also worships Hotei-son.
The temple is deeply related to Matsuhime, a sixth daughter of Takeda Shingen. Matsuhime was born in 1561. At the age of seven, she was engaged to eleven-year-old Oda Nobutada, a son of Oda Nobunaga. But later, when the Takeda clan and the Oda clan got hostile to each other, the engagement was broken off. When the Oda forces invaded into the territory of Takeda clan in 1582, Matsuhime took refuge to Hachioji, where she visited the priest, Tozan Shunetsu at Shingenji Temple and became a nun with a Buddhist name of Shinsho. It is said that Shinshoin Temple originates in a hermitage where the nun Shinsho lived and spent the rest of her life as a Buddhist.
In the precinct is the nun Shinsho’s grave, which is a city’s designated Historic Site. There are also the wooden model ships used in Hideyoshi’s Korean invasion displayed in the precinct. The temple is thronged with visitors when the ground cherry market is held in July every year.
Kongoin Temple located in Ueno-machi, Hachioji City, Tokyo is a Bekkaku Honzan (a special headquarters) of the Shingon sect. The main object of worship is Fudo Myoo. The temple is the 63rd fudasho-temple of the Kanto 88 Holy Sites, the 16th of the Buso 48 Kannon Sites, the 73rd of the Tama Shin-Shikoku 88 Holy Sites, and one of Hachioji Pilgrimage to Shichifukujin (the Seven Lucky Deities).
The temple was founded in 1576, when the priest Shinsei built a Fudo hall. In 1631, it was restored at this place as a sub-branch temple of Koyasan Kongobuji Temple and Jigenin Temple. The temple buildings were burned down by an air raid in 1945 and rebuilt in the post-war period.
Kongoin Temple is known for a large number of treasures, including the two statues of Jurojin and Fukurokuju of the Seven Lucky Deities, two Rokkyoku Byobu (six-panel screens) of Shihon Chakushoku Koyasan Zue (the illustrated description of Koyasan in color on paper) and Shihon Chakushoku Saiobo-zu (a painting of the Queen Mother of the West in color on paper), both of which are designated Tokyo Important Tangible Cultural Properties.
Chizenji Temple worshipping Benzaiten is located on Awajishima Island. Benzaiten is the Japanese name of the goddess Saraswati, who is the goddess of wisdom and performing art and one of Shichifukujin (Sevn Gods of Fortune) in Japan. The temple belongs to Shingon Sect and the Sango (the name of the mountain in which it is located) is Daiko-zan. The time of its establishment is unknown, but its history is as long as its earliest record can be found in a copied sutra “Dainehan-kyo” written during the Nanboku-cho period (1336-1392). The main hall was built in the middle of the Edo period, where the statues of Dainyorai and Benzaiten are located. The temple is one of the Awaji Shichifukujin Pilgrimage temples and visited by as many as a hundred thousand pilgrims during the year. Especially during the winter there is a day when more than 2,000 pilgrims visit the temple. On the first prayer day to Benzaiten on January 7 and at the ritual of Sentai Jizo Nagashi (the floating of the talisman representing Jizo) held on August 23, a lot of pious visitors come to dedicate their prayers.
It is said that Owari Manzai originates in the comical play contrived by Muju Kokushi, the chief priest of Choboji Temple in present Nagoya City, during the Kamakura period (1192-1333) to make the teaching of the Lotus Sutra understandable to villagers. This comical play came to be called “Hokkekyo Manzai (the Lotus Sutra Manzai).” With the development of new schools of Buddhism in this period, four other Manzai plays were created in response to religious choices of families. Thus, five genres of Manzai became the fundamentals of Owari Manzai.
One of such genres is Jiwari Manzai, which was performed to celebrate a new construction of a residence. Goten Manzai was created from Jiwari Manzai during the Tenpo era (1830-1844). It is performed for a first-pillar erecting ceremony. It begins with the words of celebration: “We rejoice in the celebration of a crane living one thousand years and a turtle ten thousand years.” Then deities from every part of the country are invited into every pillar of the house and tiles are set onto the roof. It ends with a dance of the Seven Gods of Good Fortune.
Goten Manzai performance spread all over the prefecture, bringing the words of cerebration and laughter to people, and it had been handed down in many areas of the prefecture as an auspicious performing art. Owari Manzai was designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property in 1996 by the national government.