Rinnoji Temple in Aoba-ku, Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a temple of the Soto sect of Buddhism It was founded in Somekawa in present Fukushima Prefecture in 1441 by Date Mochimune, the 11th head of the Date clan, to respond to the plea by the nun Rantei Meigyoku, the wife of the late 9th head.
Rinnoji Temple is famous for its beautiful Japanese garden named “Rinnoji Zen Garden.” It is a pond stroll garden, which is said to be one of the most wonderful gardens in the Tohoku district. The garden was designed by the priest Fukusada Mugai (1881-1943), who restored the temple after it had declined in the Meiji period.
The pond with the backdrop of red pine and cedar trees reflect the images of weeping cherry blossoms and the three-story pagoda in the middle of April. White and violet flowers of Japanese irises in late June are especially impressive. Walking across bridges over the pond to view the scenery that changes by season, you will have a really relaxing time.
Sanmyoji Temple is said to have been established at the beginning of the 8th century. Its principal image worshipped at the main hall is Benzaiten (the goddess Saraswati). During the period of the Genpei Wars (1180-1185), a priest at this temple, Mochizuki Chugen, fought with Minamoto no Noriyori’s forces and was defeated. When Noriyori became a lord of Mikawa province later, he ordered one of his retainers, Kawai Goro, to burn the temple down, from which the temple was destroyed. The temple was restored by a Zen monk Mumon, a son of Emperor Godaigo, in the 14th century. The 15 m three-story pagoda built in 1531 is well-known for its beautiful shape. It is an eclectic-styled building; the 1st and 2nd floors are built in Japanese style, while the 3rd floor in Chinese style. As architectural styles in the Muromachi period (1336-1573) varied form region to region, the pagoda is a precious building structure to know the architecture in the late Muromachi period. The pagoda and Guden Hall (the main hall) are designated as National Important Cultural Properties.
At Anrakuji Temple, there is a three-storied octagonal pagoda among the pine trees lining the road from Mt. Ogami in Ueda Shinshu.
Anrakuji Temple is said to have been established in the early Heian period, but its history before the Kamakura period is vague. This pagoda is the oldest building in the temple complex of Anrakuji. In addition, it is the only existing octagonal pagoda in Japan and also a very rare example of a Zen three-storied pagoda.
The pagoda is 18.75m tall. Its Zen architectural features include the connections between the pillars and the radial baulks that decorate the impressive octagonal roof. Even the Buddhist altar is octagonal. There is a Dainichi-Nyorai statue, which is very rarely seen in a Zen structure. The pagoda looks four-storied but the lowest roof is, in fact, a line of eaves called 'mokoshi'.
In 1947, the pagoda and Nagano Castle were the first buildings in Nagano prefecture to be designated National Treasures.
Yusanji Temple located in Muramatsu, Fukuroi City, Shizuoka Pref. is a temple belonging to Chizan school of the Shingon sect. The principal object of worship is Yakushi Nyorai. The temple name “Yusan (the mountain of oil)” originates in the episode that in 701, when the master monk Gyoki established the temple and placed the statue of Yakushi Nyorai to pray for national peace and people’s health, oil gushed from the ground.
Legend has it that in 749, when Empress Koken, who had suffered from an eye disease, prayed for curing of the disease at this temple and washed her eyes with water taken from the Ruri Waterfall in the precinct, she was completely cured. Thereafter the empress visited the temple as the Imperial prayer temple. The temple is believed to have the power to cure diseases, especially the ones in eyes. The guardian deity of the temple, Gunzenbo Daigongen, has been worshipped as the deity of strong legs by travelers along the Tokaido Road.
The temple gate, the vermillion three-story pagoda, the zushi (miniature Buddhist shrine) to enshrine Yakushi Nyorai in the main hall are all designated important cultural properties.
The three-story pagoda at Kojoji Temple in Onomichi City, Hiroshima Pref. was built in 1432 by the donation of two local merchants named Nobumoto and Nobumasa. This is a 3 x 3 bay three-story pagoda with a tile roof, which is 19 m tall to the tip of the vertical shaft at the top. Its well-balance shape and detailed decorations in Chinese styles are worth seeing. Especially beautiful are the fine carvings given to the end of bracket arms, the bracket complex under the corner rafters and the decorative metal pieces attached to the final on the pagoda. It is very rare that the upside-down lotus design is used to decorate the four corner pillars supporting the balustrades of each story and that the main pillars supporting the railing of the altar has a ball shape decorative objects (“hoju”) placed in Chinese style double-blossom lotus. The decorative struts set in the bracket complex take the shape of hanging petals. These gorgeous decorative designs were distinctive to the Seto Inland Sea area in those days. This pagoda is a fine example that shows a high cultural level of the Muromachi-period architecture.
Itabashi Fudo-son, or formally named Seian-san Ganjoji Fudoin Temple, is a temple of Shingon Sect. The temple was established by the great priest Kukai in 808. It had been burnt down by several fires, and in the 16th century, the temple was rebuilt by a high ranked Shingon Sect priest. The Fudo-son (the Buddhist divinity of fire) at this temple is worshipped by a lot of people for his power of bringing about easy delivery and successful childcare. There are a lot of cultural properties at this temple including National Important Cultural Properties of the statues of Fudo Myoo and Ryo-doji, both of which were carved by Kukai himself, and prefectural Important Cultural Properties of the Main Hall, Sakura-Gate, and the 3-story Pagoda. The 3-story Pagoda was renovated in 1996. This is one of the few temples in the prefecture which are composed of seven major buildings.
Hase Temple is the headquarters of the Shingon-Buzan sect and is located in Sakurai, Nara Prefecture. The name of the mountain on which it is located is Buzan-Kagurain (or Hatsuse or Buzan). The temple is the 8th of Saikoku's 33 Kannon spiritual spots.
In the 1st year of the Shucho period (686), Domyo Shonin built a three-storied tower to pray for the recovery of the Shomu Emperor. In the 4th year of the Jinki period (727), Tokudo Shonin set an 11-faced Kannon statue at the east and founded this temple.
The main statue is the wooden 11-faced Kannon-bosatsu statue. It was made in the 7th year of the Tenbun period (1538). At about 10m tall, it is the biggest wooden Buddha statue in Japan. The butai-style main building is tile-roofed and half-hipped roofed and was built in the 3rd year of the Keian period (1650).
The temple has many Buddhist scriptures and statues such as the Bronze Plaque of the Hokke Sesso-zu, and a 'makie' box for scriptures, which are national treasures. They give a sense of sincere faith.
Nara Hase Temple is also well known as a flower spot, which please visitors through each of the four seasons.
Hokiji is a temple of the Shotoku sect and is located in Ikaruga Town, Ikoma County, Nara Prefecture. It is a world heritage site.
There are several old temples related to Prince Shotoku such as Horyuji, Horinji and Chuguji in Ikaruga. This place is a traditional Buddhist place.
The site of Hokiji was originally the Okamoto-no-miya palace, where Prince Shotoku lectured on the Lotus Sutra. In the 10th year of the Jomei period (638), Prince Shotoku's son, Yamashiro-no-oeno, changed Okamoto into a temple according to Shotoku's will.
The remains of a golden building and a tower have been found here. An additional fact is that the three-storeyed pagoda is the only remaining original building and is the oldest of its kind in Japan.