Magaibutsu are Buddhist images carved on large rock outcrops, cliffs, or in caves. The ruins site of Fukurinji Temple is located in a quiet forest in back of Yasu Junior High School in Yasu City, Shiga Prefecture. Nothing pertaining to the temple has been discovered yet but the site is dotted with large and small rocks on which Buddhist images are carved. Together with many stone images of Buddha also placed everywhere in the site, they create a mysterious atmosphere.
On the large flat rock outcrop are 13 Jizo Bosatsu, each of which is about 45 cm tall. Two images of Amida Nyorai and one Kannon are carved on another large rock. Both of them are said to be carved in the early Muromachi period (1336-1573). Though they are small in size, the carved lines are delicate as if carved on woodblocks.
It is said that there used to be a lot more rocks with Buddhist images at this ruins site, but many of them were taken away by wealthy merchants in Osaka during the Meiji to Taisho periods (the late 19th to the early 20th centuries) to decorate their gardens.
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).
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.
Kosenji Temple in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, is an historic temple pertaining to the Taira clan. In 1321, after the fall of the Taira clan, a descendant of Taira no Shigemori, known as Komatsu Naidaijin (Inner Minister), disguised himself as a mountain practitioner and came to this village, escaping from his enemies. He founded a temple named Komatsu-dera Temple, where he placed the statue of Amida Nyorai, which was his family’s guardian Buddha, and held memorial services for his deceased ancestors. Later, the temple was changed its name to Kosenji Temple.
The principal object of worship, the statue of Amida Nyorai, was presented to Shigemori by the temple in Auyung in present Ningbo City in China, and treasured as the guardian of the family. After it was enshrined at this temple, it has been named Komatsu Nyorai after Shigemori, and worshipped by local people.
The temple possesses a lot of cultural properties such as the statue of Idatenjin, the Jizo statue carved by Kaikei and the 12 ancestral tablets including the one for Shigemori, which make us think of the rise and fall of the Taira clan, who once ruled the country.
Shinkomyoji Temple in Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture, is a temple of the Jodo sect. It is a historic temple famous as the family temple of the Matsudaira clan. The principal object of worship is Shaka Nyorai. The temple was founded in 1451 by the 3rd head of the Matsudaira clan, Matsudaira Nobumitsu, who took refuge in the Buddha under the guidance of the priest Shakuyo Zongei of the Chinzei school of the Jodo sect. The Shogunate gave a great degree of protection to the temple during the Edo period (1603-1868) as the family temple of the ancestors of the Shogun, and it bore the repair expense when the temple buildings were destroyed by fire.
The temple possesses a lot of cultural properties including the Kannon Hall, the statue of Yamagoe Amida Nyorai (Descent of Amida over the Mountains) of the Muromachi period (1336-1573), and the statue of Unchu Amida Nyorai (Amida on the Cloud) of the Nanbokucho period (1336-1392). The Kannon Hall was constructed in 1478 during the Muromachi period. The characteristics of the Zen-styled architecture in the mid-Muromachi period can be seen in the large camber on the outer side of the roof and the oni-gawara (decorative ridge-end tiles) atop the roof of the Somon Gate. The hall is nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property.
Ankoku-ji is a generic name for temples which were built by Ashikaga Takauji under his grand plan of creating one temple in each provincial state following the earlier example of Emperor Shoumu who built Kokubun-ji temples.
Most of Ankoku-ji still remains today and this Ankoku-ji in Oozaki City, Miyagi, is also one of sixty six Ankoku-ji temples build under the plan.
While Kokubun-ji were built to pray for each state’s achievements in culture and education, though having the similar basic concept, Ankoku-ji differs slightly as they honor the fallen soldiers since Genko War and pray for the peace and security of the nation.
Ankoku comes from word “Ankokurijyou” meaning to make the nation peaceful and safe, and save all mankind and create prosperity. With this vision and its respect for all dead soldiers, Ankoku-ji are temples designed to unify Japan.
Miyagi Ankoku-ji was destroyed several times by fire during military conflict but since then it was rebuilt by Date Tadamune, the lord of Sendai Clan, in 1760. It remains intact to this day.
The principal image of Buddha in the temple is a wooden Amidanyorai statue, which is designated as a Miyagi’s cultural asset. Along with the other sixty five temples scattered in the nation, Miyagi Ankoku-ji watches over worldly life.
Shoshinji Temple in Urakawa Town on the south coast of Hokkaido is a temple of the Otani school of the Jodoshinshu sect. The principal object of worship is Amida Nyorai. It is the oldest temple in Urakawa Town and has been worshipped by local people since it was founded in the Meiji period.
It was originally founded in 1858 in Hakodate as the resident priests’ quarters of a larger temple. In 1878, the priest, Kodo Shimizu, asked the school headquarters for the relocation of the temple to Urakawa Village. As it was accepted, he built a temple building in Urakawa Village and moved the statue of Amida Nyorai to the new temple, which became a sub-branch temple of Honganji Temple.
After the temple building was damaged by Tokachioki Earthquake, the new building was constructed in the present place in 1959.
Higashi Honganji Temple Hakodate Branch located in Motomachi, Hakodate City, Hokkaido is a temple of the Otani denomination of Jyodoshinshu. The principal object of worship is the statue of Amida Nyorai. The temple originates in a small Amida hall built in Kokinai Village in 1641 by the priest Jogen. In the later era, the temple was relocated to Hakodate. In 1858, it changed its name to Honganji Temple Hakodate Gobo Jogenji by the order of the Tokugawa Shogunate, and then in 1876, it named itself Higashi Honganji Temple Hakodate Branch.
The original temple building was destroyed by the two fires, and the temple was moved to the present area in 1915, and it was rebuilt with ferroconcrete for fire prevention. It became the first ferroconcrete temple in Japan. Though looking like a wooden structure, the main hall has the concrete-made beams and pillars and its small roofs have reinforcing steel bars. The main gate, Nanmon Gate and wall fences are all made of ferroconcrete. The gently curving huge roof of the main hall is very beautiful.