Shiofune Kannon Temple located in Shiofune, Ome City, Tokyo, is a Bekkaku-Honzan (the special headquarters) of the Daigo school of the Shingon sect. The main object of worship is Juichimen Senju Sengan Kanjizai Bosatsu (Bosatsu with 11 faces, 1,000 arms and 1,000 eyes). It is the 72nd of the Kanto 88 Holy Sites.
It is said that the temple was founded during the Taika era (645-650), when Yaobikuni, a legendary character who had eaten the flesh of mermaids to get immortality at age 17 and later became a nun, dropped in at this village and placed the Kannon statue here.
At the annual festival held on May 3 every year, the Saito Goma Fire ritual is performed. Torches are thrown into the huge goma stage set up in the center of the open space in the precinct, where a dozens of yamabushi (mountain practitioners) stand in a circle, chanting Shingon prayers to invite the main object of worship into the fire and pray for attainment of people’s wishes. Then the Hiwatari ritual is performed, in which some of the yamabushi with a sward in their hand run through the burning fire one after another, yelling with vigor. This is a very gallant and solemn religious event.
Heiwa Kannon located in Ohya-machi, Utsunomiya City, Tochigi Pref. is a huge statue of Kannon carved into a wall of Ohya Stone in the old Ohya stone quarry. It was made in hope for world peace and in memory of Japan and U.S. war dead soldiers in the World War II. The statue is 26.93-meter in height and 20-centimeter in circumference of waist. It was made in 1954 by a stone mason, Ryozo Ueno, who did its foundation work, and a sculptor, Asajiro Hida, who hand-carved its calm expression. From the top of the stairs beside the statue, you can command a wide view of the Utsunomiya plain over its shoulder.
On the left side of the Kannon was a tunnel leading to Ohyaji Temple, but it is currently closed for the danger of falling. Ohyaji Temple is also famous for its rock-cut Kannon known as Ohya Kannon. Heiwa Kannon is a symbol of the stone town of Ohya.
Nyoirinji Temple located in Yoshinoyama, Yoshino-cho, Nara Pref. is a temple of Jodo sect. It was founded in the Engi era (901-923) by the priest Nichizo Doken Shonin, a son of the Monjo Hakase (Professor of Literature) Miyoshi Kiyoyuki. The principal image is Nyoirin Kannon. In 1336, when Emperor Go-daigo was defeated in Nanbokucho Wars and set up the Southern Court in Yoshino, the temple became the place where the emperor offered prayers. The temple is known for the episode that when Kusunoki Masashige set out for the battle of Shijo Nawate in Osaka, he carved the death poem on the door of the hall with an arrowhead.
In 1650, when the priest Tetsugyu restored the main hall, the temple was converted from the Shingon sect to the Jodo sect. A lot of precious cultural properties are displayed in the Treasure House of the temple including the statue of angry-faced Zao Gongen and the picture of Kannon, which is popularly called “Ne-ogami Kannon (Kannon to be worshipped in the lying posture)” because it is painted on the ceiling and which is said to be the largest one of this type. Standing in the precinct, visitors can feel the long history and tradition at this temple of Nyoirinji.
Heishoji Temple in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, is a temple of the Soto sect. According to the temple record written in 1616, it was founded by Prince Shotoku (574-622); it later became a temple of the Tendai sect and named Dandokuzan Daihimitsuin Temple; and when Prince Hirakatsu (平勝), the 3rd son of Emperor Go-Daigo, visited this temple to pray for victory, the temple name was changed to Heishoji (平勝寺).
The principal object of worship is the treasured wooden statue of Kannon Bosatsu. It was carved with the Yosegi-zukuri (assembled wood) technique and the writing contained inside the statue shows that it was made in 1159. The display of this secret Buddha is held once every 17 years. It is nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property.
Konpoji Temple, or popularly called Nonodake Kannon, is located at the top of Mt. Nonodake, known as a holy mountain since the ancient times. Konpoji is the 9th of Oshu Holy Place of 33 Kannon. The principal image of worship is Juichimen Kannon (Kannon with 11 faces). Together with Tomiyama Kannon in Matsushima Town and Makiyama Kannon in Ishinomaki City, it is counted as one of the three holy Kannon in the Tohoku region.
Konpoji Temple was founded in 770 by the order of Emperor Konin. The Kannon Hall was constructed by Sakanoue Tamuramaro in 802 after he had conquered the Emishi. As the mountain was often wrapped in a dense fog, the temple was named Mugakusan (literally meaning “Fog Mountain”) Shofukuji Temple. In 849, when Jikaku Daishi visited this place on his missionary tour, he extended a temple building and renamed it Muizan Konpoji Temple.
Going up the steep stone steps, you will get to the eight-legged temple gate, in which two Nio statues are placed. Interestingly, they have cute round eyes. In the precinct stand historic and stately buildings including Hondo (the main hall), the Goma Hall, the Monju Hall, the Amida Hall and the Kannon Hall. The Kannon Hall was destroyed by fire twice in the past and the present building was constructed in 1851.
A group of stone statues of Kannon stand at the top of Mt. Niragamiyama (94 m) on the outskirts of the Numabe area in Murata Town, Miyagi Prefecture. Mt. Niragamiyama (literally meaning “Chive God Mountain”) was named so because yellow chives grew in the mountain in the old times. The mountain was a battleground during the war between the Northern Fujiwara clan and the forces of Minamoto no Yoritomo in 1189. It is also famous as the place where Matsuo Basho wrote a poem. At the top of the mountain is a stone monument inscribed with a poem written by Fujiwara no Sanekata, a poet in the middle of the Heian period (794-1192). From the observatory at the mountain top, you can command a panoramic view of the Zao Mountain Range and the Shiraishi River.
The 33 Kannon stone statues stand in two rows near the observatory. They were dedicated and erected by several local worshippers in 1846 by modeling after the Saigoku 33 Pilgrim Route. You will feel the contributors’ simple but faithful religious devotion from these old stone statues.
Mizusawadera, or popularly called Mizusawa Kannon (Mizusawa, Ikaho-machi, Shibukawa City, Gunma Prefecture) is a historic temple of the Tendai sect. It is the 16th temple of Bando Pilgrimage to the 33 Holy Places of Kannon. The principal object of worship is Juichimen Senju Kannon Bosatsu (Kannon with 11 faces and 1,000 arms).
It is said that the temple was founded about 1,300 years ago by Priest Ekan from Goguryeo under the order of Empress Suiko and Emperor Jito and built by Takamitsu Chujo, the provincial governor. According to the temple record, it used to be a magnificent temple enshrining as many as 1,200 images of Buddha housed in more than 33 temple halls including the halls of Kon-do, Ko-do, Jogyo-do and Kanjo-do, the sutra library,, the bell tower and the Tahoto pagoda.
Rokkaku-do (the Hexagon Hall) constructed in the Genroku era (1688-1703) is a two-story pagoda that has a very unique structure, where the 6 images of Jizo Bosatsu are placed on the rotating platform.
The statues of Shaka Triad and other precious statues and paintings are displayed and open to the public in Shaka-do (the Shakamuni Hall), which was constructed in 2001.
Terashita Kannon is a temple located in Akabonai, Hashikami-cho, Sannohe-gun, Aomori Prefecture. The principal object of worship is Sho Kannon. It was founded in the Kamakura period (1192-1333) as the 1st Holy Place of 33 Kannon Pilgrimage in Oshu Nukabe.
In the Kannon Hall surrounded with dense forest of cedar trees, a statue of Kannon, 65 cm tall, which is said to have been carved out from Japanese judas wood by a high priest Gyoki in 724.
It is believed that if you worship 33 Kannon statues of this temple, you will receive the same benefit as you visit 33 Kannon Holy Places in Kinki. As the idea of Shinbutsu Shugo (fusion of Shinto and Buddhism) has been practiced in this area, Ushioyama Shrine is located in the precinct. Today it is visited by a lot of pilgrims, who quietly offer prayers in the precinct.
The waterfall in back of the main hall was the training ashram for mountain practitioners in the old days. Local people have come to worship and take this water as the miracle water to give perpetual youth and longevity. It was selected as the prefecture’s fine water by the governor in 1989.