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.
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.
Saigyo was a famous Japanese poet of the late Heian period (794-1192). Born to a military family in 1118, he started his careear as an Imperial Guard to retired Emperor Toba at the age of 18. He was a handsome young man, who was both a good warrior and a good scholar. He came to be known in the political circles of the time, but for some unknown reasons, he quit worldly life to become a monk at the age of 23. Later he took the pen name “Saigyo” meaning Western Journey.
He did not belong to any sect of Buddhism and stayed in a hermitage in a deep mountain to seek for enlightment through writing waka poems. Being attracted by the beauty of nature, he made his temporary hermitage in the suberbs of Kyoto and Nara including Mt. Ogurayama in Saga, Mt. Kuramayama, a holy mountain of Yoshino and Mt. Koya, the sanctuary of the Shingon Buddhism. He also made a number of trips to visit temples and shrines in Shikoku and Ise.
94 poems of Saigyo’s work are collected in “the Shin Kokinshu.” His other important collections of poems are “Sankashu (Mountain Home Collection),” “Sanka Shinchu Shu,” and “Kikigakishu.” He died at Hirokawa Temple in Kawachi province (present-day Kanan-cho in Osaka Prefecture) in 1190.
Nichiren was a Buddhist monk in the Kamakura period (1192-1333) and the founder of the Nichiren sect of Buddhism. Born in Awa province (present-day Chiba Prefecture) in 1222, Nichiren began his Buddhist study at a nearby temple, Seichoji, at the age of 12. He was formally ordained four years later at 16. Then he visited temples in Nara and Kyoto including Shitennoji Temple and Koyasan Kongobuji Temple for more in-depth study. Through the study of Nenbutsu (Buddhist invocation), Zen and Shingon (esoteric practice), he became convinced of the pre-eminence of the Lotus Sutra. In 1253, he founded his own sect of Buddhism at Seichoji Temple and recited “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” for the first time. He changed his name to Nichiren, wherein the kanji character for nichi (日) means “sun” and that for ren (蓮) means “lotus.”
In 1260, he wrote “the Rissho Ankoku Ron (Treatise on securing the peace of the land through the establishment of the correct),” in which he criticized all the other sects of Japanese Buddhism. It prompted a severe backlash, especially from among priests of other Buddhist sects and the Kamakura Shogunate. Nichiren was harassed and exiled four times in his life. When he was exiled to Sado, an island in the Japan Sea, he wrote two of his most important doctrinal treatises, “the Kaimoku Sho (On the opening of the eyes)” and “the Kanjin no Honzon Sho (The object of devotion for observing the mind in the fifth five-hundred year period).” It was also during his exile on Sado, in 1272, that he inscribed the first Gohonzon, the mandala that he intended as a graphic representation of the essence of the Lotus Sutra.
Nichiren spent the rest of his life at Minobu, where he and his disciples erected Kuonji Temple and he continued writing and training his disciples. In 1282, Nichiren died in Edo (present-day Tokyo). The Japanese imperial court awarded Nichiren the honorific designations “Nichiren Daibosatsu (Great Bodhisattva Nichiren)” in 1358 and “Rissho Daishi (Great Teacher Rissho) in 1922.
Kongozanmaiin Temple in Mt. Koya in Wakayama Prefecture is the Bakkaku-Honzan (extra-status cathedral) of the Shingon sect. The principal object of worship is Aizen Myoo. It is the 11th of the 18 Holy Places of Butto-koji (Old Temples with Pagodas) and the 17th Holy Place of Saigoku Aizen Myoo Pilgrimage. .
The temple was founded in 1211 as Zenjoin Temple by the plea of Hojo Masako to hold memorial services for her husband, Minamoto no Yoritomo. In 1223, when Masako died with the Buddhist name of Zenjo Nyojitsu, the temple changed its name to the present name.
Tahoto pagoda was constructed by the order of Masako and under the supervision of the Zen monk Kakuchi. It is a 14.9 m tall pagoda with Japanese cypress-bark roof. The first story is not very tall and the second story has the stability. It is the second oldest Tahoto pagoda and counted as one of the three finest Tahoto pagodas in Japan. It is designated as a National Treasure.
The pagoda houses the statue of Gochi Nyorai, which is a nationally designated Important Cultural Property.
Mutsu Kokubunji in Kinoshita, Wakabayashi-ku, Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a temple of the Shingon sect. The principal image of worship is Yakushi Nyorai. It was founded as one of the Kokubunji temples that were built all over the country during the Nara period (710-794) and it is the northernmost Kokubunji Temple in the country. In 1189, the temple buildings were destroyed by a battle fire and some of the buildings including the Yakushido Hall, the Niomon Gate and the bell tower were restored in 1607 by Date Masamune.
The Yakushido Hall is the oldest wooden building existing in Sendai City and nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property. Together with Osaki Shrine in the city, it has typical characteristics of the architectural style in the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568-1598). It is one-story building in Irimoya-zukuri style made of plain wood. Inside the hall is the house-shaped Zushi (a miniature Buddhist shrine), where the principal image, Yakushi Nyorai, is enshrined. As a secret Buddha, the statue is not open to the public.
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.
Yakushiji Temple in Kawami-cho, Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, is a temple of the Koyasan school of the Shingon sect. Its mountain name is Rurikozan. It is popularly called “Kawami no Yakushi-san.”
The main gate stands at the top of the long and steep stone steps. Several halls including Kannon-do Hall in front and the main hall are located in a spacious precinct. The sculptures of dragon placed beneath the eaves of the main hall are famous as the most wonderful dragon sculptures in Japan. The statue of Yakushi Nyorai was carved in the late Muromachi period (13361573) in Yosegi-zukuri (assembled wood) technique. Together with the two stone lanterns in the precinct, the statue was designated as a cultural property of the village.
In spring, the temple is covered with over 1,000 cherry blossoms. Snowstorm of pale pink petals is breathtaking.