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).
Kounji Temple located in Tsukui-cho, Sagamihara City, Kanagawa Prefecture, is a temple of the Soto sect. In 1408, a small hermitage named “Koun-an” was founded in a village of Oi (present-day Tsukui-cho Oi) behind Tsukui Castle (present-day Tsukuiko-Shiroyama Prefectural Park). Later in the Warring States period (1493-1573), Naito Kagesada, the castellan of Tsukui Castle, relocated it to the present place and built the temple. In the Edo period (1603-1868), Kounji Temple was a sub-branch temple of Soneiji Temple, which was appointed as the registrar (Kanto Sorokushi) and the head of the three head administrative temples (Kan-Sansatsu) of the Soto sect in the Kanto region. The temple was so flourished as to be feoffed with the land of 50 koku of rice and the Main Hall, Kaizando Hall, Hakusando Hall and the bell tower stood in the large precinct.
In back of the Main Hall are Muhoto pagodas (priests’ tombs) with Hokyointo (three-tiered stupa pagoda) in the center, which is supposed to be the tomb of Kagesada and his wife. The pagodas are surrounded with the toms of the family of Moriya Sadaiyu, the local governor, Baba Sado, the castle substitute, and Shimazaki Norinao, a former retainer and Sodai-Nanushi (the officer delegating nearby villages) of Tsukui area. Kagesada’s tomb is designated as a Cultural Property of the town.
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.
Zuiunzan Honkoji Temple, about ten minutes’ walk from JR Mitsugane Station in Koda Town, Aichi Prefecture, is a temple of the Soto sect. It was founded in 1528 by Matsudaira Tadasada, the founder of the Fukozu Matsudaira clan, which was one of the 14 sub-clans of the Matsudaira clan. The principal object of worship is Shaka Nyorai. The statues of Jizo Bosatsu and Senju Kannon Bosatsu (Kannon with 1,000 arms) attending Shaka Nyorai on both sides are said to have been carved by the 12th-century master sculptor, Unkei.
Going along the front approach and passing by a small old shrine on your right, you will get to the red-painted main gate in the Yakui-mon style. Beyond the main gate lie the mausoleums of the Matsudaira clan on both sides of the path. The main hall is a landscape building. The small bell made of alloyed gold, silver and copper is hung under the eaves of the main hall. It was made under the order of Matsudaira Tadatoshi in the early 17th century.
Known as “the Temple of Hydrangea,” it is famous for hydrangea as well as plum and camellia. In June, the front approach and the precinct are covered with wonderful hydrangea flowers.
Tenonji Temple in Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture, is a temple of the Myoshinji school of the Rinzai sect. The temple was founded by the Zen monk Kensho Goshin in 1362 by the order of the 3rd Shogun of the Muromachi Shogunate, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, on behalf of his grandfather, Ashikaga Takauji, who had made a vow before he died that he would construction a temple at this place in appreciation for the fulfillment of his prayer for victory.
The stately main gate built in the Yakuimon style looks like a castle gate. The main hall is a Chinese-styled building with the large camber on the outer side of the roof. It is nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property. In front of the main hall is a Hojo-ike Pond (set living things free pond), which is typical to a Zen temple.
In the precinct stands a huge cedar tree named “Ieyasu-ko Mikaeri-no-sugi (the cedar tree that Ieyasu looked back at).” According to a legend, when Tokugawa Ieyasu visited this temple to pray for his victory, he heard someone calling his name. He turned around to see who it was, when an assassin was just going to launch an arrow at him from behind a huge cedar tree. It was Enmei Jizo Bosatsu (Life Lengthening Jizo) that called him and Ieyasu narrowly escaped from being shot. When he left the temple for a battle field, Ieyasu looked back at the cedar tree over and over again to show his gratitude to Jizo Bosatsu.
Myogenji Temple located amidst of the residential district near Okazaki Station is the oldest training ashram of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism in Mikawa province (present-day Aichi Prefecture).
There used to stand a castle at the place where the temple is located today. In 1235, Ando Nobuhira, the castellan who ruled Aomi county (present-day eastern part of Aichi Prefecture), invited Priest Shinran, who was on his way back to Kyoto, and listened to his preach in a small hall called “Taishi-do” in the castle area. Deeply moved by Shinran’s preaching, Nobuhira left secular life as a warrior and entered the priesthood. In 1258, he founded a temple and named it Myogenji (明眼寺).
In the late 16th century, Tokugawa Ieyasu stayed at this temple during the Ikko-Ikki battles because the temple had been worshipped by his father’s family, the Matsudaira clan. He presented the new kanji name (妙源寺) to the temple, allowing it to use the kanji “源,” which was the name of his ancestry family, the Minamoto clan.
Turning down a side street off the main road of Okazaki City, you will find a castle gate in Iyakumon-style. Go along the front approach until you get to the four-legged gate, beyond which you will find the precinct dotted with several temple structures including Taishido Hall, the main hall, the priest’s residential quarters and the bell tower.
Taishido Hall housing the statue of Prince Shotoku at age 16 is supposedly built in the middle of the Muromachi period (1336-1573). As there used to be a willow tree in front of the hall, it is popularly called “Yanagi-do (Willow Hall).”It is nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property.
Kogetsuin Temple in Matsudaira-cho in Toyota City, Aich Prefecture, is famous as the family temple of Matsudaira Chikauji and his son Yasuchika, the ancestors of the Tokugawa clan.
The tombstone of Chikauji (the founder of the clan) in the center and those of Yasuchika (the 2nd head of the clan) and the wife of Chikatada (the 4th) on both sides are erected in the grave yard surrounded by stone walls with the doors, on which the family crest of the Tokugawa clan, hollyhock leaves (aoi-no-mon) are inscribed.
Kogetsuin Temple was founded in 1367 by Asuke Shigemasa under the patronage of Ariwara no Nobushige, the father of Chikauji’s wife. It was originally named Jakushoji Temple, but its name was changed to Kogetsuin after Chikauji dedicated the hall, the pagoda and the statue of Amida Buddha, which is the principal object of worship, and became the family temple of the Matsudaira clan.
The temple had received a great degree of protection from the Tokugawa Shogunate until the end of the Edo period (1603-1868). It was enfeoffed with the land producing 100 koku of rice by Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1602. The main hall and the gate were reconstructed under the order of the 3rd Shogun Iemitsu in 1641.
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.