Zuiunzan Honkoji Temple, about ten minutes’ walk from JR Mitsugane Station in Koda Town, Aichi Prefecture, is a temple of the Soto sect. It was founded in 1528 by Matsudaira Tadasada, the founder of the Fukozu Matsudaira clan, which was one of the 14 sub-clans of the Matsudaira clan. The principal object of worship is Shaka Nyorai. The statues of Jizo Bosatsu and Senju Kannon Bosatsu (Kannon with 1,000 arms) attending Shaka Nyorai on both sides are said to have been carved by the 12th-century master sculptor, Unkei.
Going along the front approach and passing by a small old shrine on your right, you will get to the red-painted main gate in the Yakui-mon style. Beyond the main gate lie the mausoleums of the Matsudaira clan on both sides of the path. The main hall is a landscape building. The small bell made of alloyed gold, silver and copper is hung under the eaves of the main hall. It was made under the order of Matsudaira Tadatoshi in the early 17th century.
Known as “the Temple of Hydrangea,” it is famous for hydrangea as well as plum and camellia. In June, the front approach and the precinct are covered with wonderful hydrangea flowers.
Shurokusai located at the foot of Mt. Takadate in Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a temple of the Soto sect of Buddhism. It used to be one of the attached temples to Kumano Shingu Shrine at the top of the mountain, and is known as the 2nd holy places of 33 Kannon Pilgrimage in Oshu.
It is said that the temple was founded about 1,200 years ago, when Sakanoue Tamuramaro offered a prayer for his victory in the war to conquer the people in the north land.
The principal image of worship is the statue of Sho Kanzeon Bosatsu, which is said to have been carved by Unkei, a master sculptor in the late Heian to early Kamakura periods.
The temple was originally called Shuroku-ji Temple, but as Date Masamune used it as the study (“sho-sai” in Japanese), it came to be called Shuroku-sai. It is one of the very few temples with the suffix of “sai” instead of “ji” used in the temple name.
There is a fine Japanese maple tree named “Risho no Benishidare” in the precinct.
The view from the top of Mt. Takadate is also wonderful. You can command a panoramic view of the Natori Plain at the foot and the Pacific Ocean and Kinkazan Island in the distance.
Takisanji Temple in Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture, is a temple of the Tendai sect of Buddhism. The principal object of worship is Sho Kannon. En no Gyoja placed the statue of Yakushi Nyorai and founded a temple in this place under the order of Emperor Tenchi in the latter half of the 7th century. The temple declined for some time in the later periods; however, it was restored by the Tendai priest Eikyu in the Hoan era (1120-1123).
In 1645, Toshogu Shrine was constructed in the precinct under the order of the 3rd Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu, by which the temple was protected by the Shogunate and thrived during the Edo period (1603-1868).
The main hall constructed in 1222 is the oldest building in the prefecture. It is a Yosemune-zukuri hall with a Japanese cypress-barked roof. It was built in an eclectic style, where the architectural styles of Japan, China and India are combined. The main hall is a nationally designated Important Cultural Property.
Other than the main hall, the temple possesses a lot of cultural properties including the statues of Kannon Bosatsu and Bonten, the standing statue of Taishakuten, all of which were carved by a master Buddhist sculptor Unkei and his son and placed by the priest Kanden, a cousin of Minamoto no Yoritomo, in the Kamakura period (1192-1333). They are also designated as important cultural properties.
Nanendou Hall (Southern Octagonal Hall) is a temple building within the Koufuku-ji Temple complex and is located in Nara City, Nara Prefecture. The hall was founded in 813 by Fujiwara Fuyutsugu in honor of his father, Fujiwara Uchimaro,. The hall is designated as a National Treasure by the Japanese government. Nanendou is one of an opposing pair of octagonal halls, the other being Hokuendou( Northern Octagonal Hall). The hall was damaged by fire and the present reconstruction dates back to the Edo period. Nanendou enshrines the main altar piece of Fukuukensaku-kannonbosatsu which stands 3.4 meters high and was made by Koukei, father of Unkei, a prominent sculptor. On the right side of the hall is a wisteria trellis which is designated as one of Nara’s Eight Great Views. The lantern at the center of the hall is relatively new having been created during the current Heisei period. It bears an inscription selected by Chin Shunshin, a popular writer of historical novels. Koufuku-ji has a busy, down-to-earth atmosphere and is constantly filled with visitors following West Japan’s 33 temple pilgrimage route (Koufukuji is the 9th temple on this route). Nanendou however is only open to the public once a year, on October 17.
Jinkakuji is a Shingon (Japanese Esoteric) Buddhist temple located on Mt Jinkakuji in Oita Prefecture. It is also called the Koyasan-shingonshu-nyoisan and the Shakunage (Rhododendron) Temple.
The original temple built by a monk from Silla Korea in 570 was destroyed in a battle in 1196. However, during the Jyuji-Kanmitsu period, the Otomo Family restored six residences for monks, and one of these residences located in the east became the main temple of Jinkaku.
Jinkakuji's main temple has a brilliantly curved eave made in a hogyotsukuri (pyramid-shape) style and is tiled in the hiwadabuki style using tiles and cypress shingles. The pair of wooden kongorikishi guardian statues located at the temple gate demonstrate the Unkei sculpture style and have been designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan along with the main temple.
More than 500 rhododendron trees, all at least 100 years of age, grow in one corner of the temple grounds, and a rhododendron festival is held each year from the end of April to May.
Yamadera Nio Mon (Deva Kings) Gate is part of the Yamadera temple complex in Yamagata prefecture.
Yamadera is a branch temple of Enryaku-ji on Hieizan in Kyoto and was established by the priest Jikaku in 860. The official name of Yamadera is Mount Houshu Ryūshaku-ji.
Yamadera is famous for Matsuo Bashō's haiku
The cries of the cicadas
Sink into the rocks
It is believed that the Jyouden Osho, or 65th monk of Ryūshaku-ji, had the Nio Mon built. The graceful gate is made of zelkova wood. Looking up to it from the slope below, it appears to float in the sky.
The gate is flanked by statues of the Deva Kings. They are reputed to be the work of Hirai Genshichiro and were made to prevent people with wicked souls from entering the temple.