Kakinomoto Shrine in Kakinomoto, Katsuragi City, Nara Pref. is one of the sessha shrines (attached shrines) of Kakinomoto Honsha Shrine in Masuda City, Shimane Pref. It enshrines Kakinomoto Hitomaro, a poet in Manyoshu. As one of the legends concerning Kakinomoto Hitomaro found all over Japan, it is said that he was born here in Kakinomoto village. It is also said that he died in Iwami province (present-day Shimane Pref.) and later in 770, his body was reburied here. Kakinomoto Hitomaro was a poet and aristocrat of the Nara period (701-794). With the sophisticated poetry style, he is said to be the greatest lyric poet in Manyoshu and was counted as one of the 36 great poets in Japan in the later period. His grave located to the left of the main hall was built in the Edo period.
The temple next to the shrine is an attached temple, Keigenji Temple, which is called Kakinomoto-dera. The wooden statue of Kakinomoto Hitomaro curved by Buddhist archbishop Sinzei is placed in the main hall but it is not open to public.
Kakinomoto Shrine in Nara is a historic shrine pertaining to the great poet in ancient Japan.
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.
Kukai (774-835) was a Japanese monk, the founder of the Shingon sect of Buddhism in Japan. Kūkai is also famous as a calligrapher, and together with the Emperor Saga and the courtier Tachibana no Hayanari, he is admired as the “Three Great Brushes” (or sanpitsu).
Kūkai was born in 774 in the province of Sanuki on Shikoku island in the present day town of Zentsūji. He studied Confucianism at the government university in Nara, where he became disillusioned with his studies because he thought that Confucianism could not resolve social contradictions. He developed a strong interest in Buddhist studies and named himself Kukai.
In 804, he set sail for China as a menmer of the government sponsored mission, in which Saichō, the founder of the Tendai school of Buddhism, was also included.
After studying Buddhism techings and Chinese cultures, he finally met Master Huiguo (Jap. Keika), the man who would initiate him into the esoteric Buddhism tradition at Changan's Qinglong Monastery in 805. In a few short months he received the final initiation, and become a master of the esoteric lineage.
Kūkai arrived back in Japan in 806 and reside in the Takaosanji (later Jingoji) Temple in the suburbs of Kyoto. There he established his own sect of Buddhism, the Shingon sect. At the same time, he used his knowledge in civil engineering that he had learned in China and directed civil works in many places. He also exercised his talents in various fields such as caligraphy, painting and sculpture.
When the emperor granted Mt. Koya to Kūkai, he planned to build the monastic retreat centre. However, before seeing the completion of his ideal religious institution, he died in Mt. Koya on March 21st, 835.
In 857, Kūkai was awarded the posthumous title of “Daishojo (the Great Priest) by Emperor Buntoku in 857, and “Kobo Daishi” by Emperor Daigo in 921. Kūkai was the great saint, who contributed greatly to the development of Japanese Buddhism after the Heian period (794-1192), and a lot of folklore and legends pertaining to Kūkai still exist in every part of the country.
Kokawadera Temple, or formally Fumo-san Kokawadera Temple, is an old and distinguished temple located in Kokawa, Kinokawa City, Wakayama Pref. This temple is known for being referred to in Makura no Soshi (the Pillow Book). This is the third temple in Saigoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage and the headquarters of Kannon temples in Kokawa area. In its most flourishing days, the temple had the formal seven buildings, 550 sub-temples, and the fief of 40,000 koku, which came next to Enryakuji Temple in Mt. Koya and Negoro Temple in rank, but was destroyed by fire during Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s Kishu Attack. The temple was restored later in the Edo period. The temple has as large as 35,000 tsubo (115,000 square meters) of precinct, as long as 200 m of front approach, and as many as 20 large and small buildings, from which one can imagine its flourishing days. The Omon Gate, the Nakamon Gate, the Main Hall, and Senju-do Hall are all nationally designated Important Cultural Properties. The illustrated history, Engi Emaki of the temple in Shihon-Chakushoku style (paper-based, colored), is a National Treasure painted by a great painter, Toba Sojo (1053-1140).
Saidaiji Temple and Kannon'in Temple are located to the north of Eian Bridge, which spans the Yoshii River. This river flows through eastern Okayama prefecture.
The principal image of Saidaiji is of the Senju Kannon or Thousand-armed Avalokiteśvara, and the temple flourished as a branch of Mt Koya's Shingon Buddhism. Saidaiji was established about 1200 years ago. Anryu-shonin founded it in 770~781, but it was renamed as Saidaiji in 1221. According to the temple's history, there were several halls (including Hondo, Jyugyodo, Miedo, Shodo, Kyozo and Kairou) before it was destroyed in a fire in 1229. We know from this that it was a huge temple.
Other than the temple itself, it is famous for a hadaka matsuri ('naked festival') that takes place annually on the 3rd Saturday in February. During the event, nearly naked men undergo a water ritual called 'mizugori' then fight for two wooden sticks called 'shingi'. It is counted as one of Japan's three major eccentric festivals.
Mount Ontake is an active single peak volcano that lies 3,067m above sea level between the boundaries of Nagano and Gifu Prefectures. It is also designated as one of Japan’s 100 famous mountains. Mount Fuji, Hakusan and Mount Onntake have been, since ancient times, giants who have towered over believers, commanding fear and awe. Since the 5th year of the Hoki period (774) when the ruler of the State of Shinano, Nobuashi Ishikawa enshrined the two Gods, Oomunachinomikoto and Sukunahikonanomikoto, and prayed for the purification of the land from plague, the mountain has thrived as a dojo for monks. Even now, people dressed in white can be seen heading for the shrine at the peak to show their faith and have their wishes granted. Mount Onntake is also famous for mountain climbing, skiing, and other attractions that draw many tourists to its slopes every year.
Kurama Temple is located in Mt.Kurama, Sakyo in Kyoto city. Its sect was originally Shingon and later Tendai and then in 1947, the chief priest, Shigaraki Kouun started a new sect, Kurama-kokyo. After 1949 it attained independence as the head of Kurama-kokyo.
The shrine was established in the first year of Hoki period, 770, when Gantei, a disciple of Gantei, built Bishamon-ten. In 796, Fujihara Isejin, who received a revelation from the god, built a statue of Senju-kannon.
The central Buddha statues are called 'Zoten', consisting of Bisha-monten-ou, Senju-kannnon-bosatsu and Goho-maho-zou.
In old times, hermit warrior monks known as ‘Yamabushi’ lived and meditated in the mountains and preached esoteric Buddhism. It is said that a long-nosed goblin called Tengu, the spirit of a mountain, lived on Mt.Kurama, one of the most sacred mountains of Tengu. And Mt.Kurama is well known as the place where Ushiwakamaru ( Minamoto Yoshitsune) trained himself, and was also made famous by the novel 'Kurama-Tengu' by Jiro Osaragi.
There are national treasures in the temple; wooden statues of Bishamon-ten, Kissho-ten and Zennishi-doji, or Kurama-temple Kyozuka relics.