Saifukuji Temple in Kariya City, Aichi Prefecture, is a temple of the Soto sect. It is a historic temple founded by Kobo Daishi Kukai. The principal object of worship is Amida Nyorai. It is the 2nd temple of the Mikawa 3 Kobo Holy Temples.
It is said that Kobo Daishi carved the three self-portrait statues and founded three temples in this area in 822. The statue housed at Saifukuji Temple is popularly called “Miokuri (Seeing-Off) Kobo Daishi.”
During the Kansei era (1460-1463), Saifukuji Temple and the adjacent Unryoin Temple were destroyed by fire, after which the two temples were left unrestored and the principal images were placed in Kusayoshi-do Hall in the vicinity. In 1595, the priest Denshi Tekko restored the temple, which was named Unryoin Saifukuji Temple.
The present main hall was constructed in 1789. Beautifully trimmed pine trees surround the hall and the front approach. Next to the main gate stands a small hall housing Daikokuten, the god of happiness.
The seven Gods of Fortune, or Seven Lucky Gods, are the seven Shinto deities, who are believed to bring good luck. Generally they are Ebisu, Daikokuten, Bishamonten, Benzaiten, Fukurokuju, Jurojin, and Hotei. Shojo and Inari, who were once included as the members, are now precluded from membership because they are not in human form, it is said. Neither six nor eight, the number “seven” is said to originate in a phrase in a Buddhist sutra “shichi-nan-sokumetsu, shichi-fuku-sokujou” (seven calamities immediately vanish, seven happiness immediately come), or “Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove” in China. Shichifukujin Meguri (the pilgrimage tour) is still very popular in Japan. It is believed that on New Year’s Day, if you put a picture of the Seven Lucky Gods on their ship, Takarabune (Treasure Ship), you will have a lucky hatsuyume (the first dream of the year).
Yanaizu Kokuzoson is a temple in Tsuyama-cho Yanaizu, Tome City, Miyagi Prefecture. The principal object of worship is the image of Kokuzo Bosatsu, the deity of happiness and wisdom. Together with Fukuman Kokuzoson at Enzoji Temple in Yanaizu-machi, Fukushima Prefecture and the one at Shokoan Temple in Yanai City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, this Kukuzoson is counted as one of Japan’s Three Finest Kokuzoson.
Walking along the front approach lined with old cedar trees and passing through the Sanmon Gate, You will find the superb complex of temple buildings. According to the temple’s official history, it was founded in 726, when Priest Gyoki, who had been traveling all over the country preaching and carrying out civil engineering works, visited this place and carved out the image of Kokuzo Bosatsu, praying for peace and stability of the country. The statues of Daikokuten and Bishamonten on both sides of the principal image are said to have been carved by Kobodaishi Kukai.
In the precinct are places called the Seven Wonders, which include “Shizuku no Sakura (Dewy Cherry Tree),” a cherry tree that looks wet even on a fine day, and “Tamakobu no Keyaki,” a zelkova tree with knots.
Hakuto (White Rabbit) Shrine in Tottori City, Tottori Prefecture is a small shrine pertaining to the legend of the White Rabbit in Inaba. The legend has it that once upon a time, a rabbit, who was washed away to the sea by a flood, wished to go back to his hometown, Inaba. He deceived the sharks playing in the sea and almost succeeded in going back home, when he made a slip of the tongue and got all of his fur plucked out by the angry shark. When he was crying, Okuninushi no Mikoto passed by and told him how to cure his wounds. The enshrined deity at this shrine is this white rabbit, or Toyotamahime no Mikoto. The pond in the precinct is believed to be where the rabbit rinsed the seawater away from his body according to Okuninushi‘s advice.
The foundation time of the shrine is unknown but the present shrine building was built in 1896. Covered with the evergreen virgin forest of shii-trees, tabu-trees and ivy trees, the precinct has a mysterious atmosphere. The forest is a nationally designated Natural Monument as the primary forest where the plant life in the coastal area along the Sea of Japan has been well preserved.
Hakuto Beach in Tottori City is known as the site of Japanese myths about the “White Rabbit of Inaba.” The legend has it that a rabbit, who was washed away to an island, wished to go back to land and deceived the sharks playing in the sea. When he almost succeeded in going back home, he made a slip of the tongue and got all of his fur plucked out by the angry shark. When he was crying, Okuninushi no Mikoto passed by and told him how to cure his wounds. The huge rock off the coast is Okinoshima Island, to which the rabbit swam across.
The arch-shaped beautiful beach is famous for its white sand and clear water and it bustles with sea-bathers in summer. Near the beach are communities of rugosa roses. In the blooming season in May, their pale pink flowers and sweet scent tell of the arrival of early summer. This is the southernmost wild boundary of rugosa roses and they are collectively designated as a National Natural Monument.
Hakuto Shrine, which enshrines the White Rabbit of Inaba is located across National Route 9 from the beach. The statues of Okuninushi no Mikoto and the White Rabbit stand along the road near the shrine.
Tokuzoji Temple in Saruta-cho, Ashikaga City, Tochigi Prefecture is a temple of the Tendai sect. The main object of worship is Amida Nyorai. The temple is popularly called “Ping Pong Temple” or “Teragoya (temple school) Ping Pong,” because it has been striving to create the place where people can have a lively conversation and have a good time.
The 500 Rakan statues at this temple is designated as a prefecture’s Important Cultural Property and is one of Japan’s Three Finest 500 Rakan Statues; the others are at Rakan Temple in Yabakei in Kyushu and at Kenchoji Temple in Kamakura. This temple possesses many other treasures including the statue of Aizen Myoo, the deity who gets rid of the bad luck, Sen-Koshin-to (stone monument) and Kana Jizo. As one of the Ashikaga Shichifukujin (Seven Gods of Good Fortune) temples, Tokuzoji Temple worships the deity Daikokuten.
People gather together at this temple every month to practice ping pong in the precinct. The ping pong tournament is also held on the first Sunday in September every year. The tournament has been held for over 30 years and has been providing the place for citizens to communicate each other.
A hammer is typically used to pound or smash objects, but the Uchide no Kozuchi (magical hammer) carried by Daikoku, one of the seven gods of fortune, is different: with just one swing, that person can achieve happiness, with all the fortune and the necessities of life (food, clothes, shelter) they would want.
Daikoku is usually portrayed holding the kozuchi, and a grab bag, seated on bales of rice with a smile that is in a way charming. The bag, which is over the shoulder of Daikoku, first appeared in the Japanese myth, 'Inaba no Shirosagi', and is said to hold the luggage of the Yasogamis. It is also described in an old fairy tale that relates how Daikoku was almost burned to death, due to Sanoo's trap, but was saved by mice. Mice then became the guardians of Daikoku.
At first, Daikoku was deified as the god of destruction and good harvest, but as time passed, he became the god of good harvest, food and fortune.
The kozuchi can be seen in other fairytales such as the 'Issun Boshi' ('One-Inch Boy') and the 'Binbogami and Fuku no Kami' ('God of Poverty and God of Fortune') as a hammer that granted any wish.
Toka Ebisu Jinja Shrine enshrines Ebisu (God of Fishermen, Good Luck and one of the Seven Gods of Fortune) and Daikoku (one of the Seven Gods of Fortune), and is located in Hakata-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture.
Takeuchi Goemon, from a money-lending branch of the Kashigu Daiguji family, was a merchant from Hakata. In 1591, he happened upon a statue of the god Ebisu washed up on Kashi beach. Takeuchi took the statue home and seeing that he treasured and cherished the statue, his family fortune flourished considerably.
Word spread about the statue and many people came to worship it as the God of Prosperity in Business. By 1690, there were so many worshippers and believers, that a shrine, now known as the Toka Ebisu Jinja, was established. The shrine deities are Kotoshironushi-no-Kami (Ebisu) and Okuninushi-no-Kami (Daikoku). These gods are known to provide prosperity in business, safety for families, and good health.
From 8 to 11 January, a New Year Grand Festival takes place each year at the Toka Ebisu Jinja, during which approximately a million people come and visit the shrine. The Kachi-mairi, a famed event where 'geiji' (women performers) walk in a line to the shrine while singing the 'Toka Ebisu no Uta' song and playing shamisens, flutes and drums, is both elegant and magnificent. This annual event is held to invoke better fortune and prosperity in business throughout the year.