Kannonji City in Kagawa Prefecture uniquely has two Holy Sites of Shikoku in one premise; Jin’nein Temple (the 68th) and Kannonji Temple (the 69th). These temples were originally a part of Kotohiki (Harp Play) Hachimangu Shrine founded in 703 by Priest Nissho, who had received a divine message from Hachiman Daimyojin with the tune of Japanese harp heard from a boat on the sea. Jin’nein was also built at this time as an attached temple to the shrine.
In the Daido era (806-809), Kobo Daishi enshrined Amida Buddha、which was Honjibutsu (Buddhist counterpart of the deity of the shrine) and designated the shrine as the 68th of the 88 Holy Sites of Shikoku. Then he carved Sho Kanzeon Bosatsu (Sacred Form of Kannon) and built the formal seven buildings of a temple in the nearby mountain, and named it Kannonji Temple, which was designated as the 69th.
Later in the Meiji period (1868-1912), when temples and shrines were separated according to the Shinbutsu Bunri policy of the national government, Honjibutsu Amida Buddha of Kotohiki Hachimangu Shrine was removed to Nishi-Kondo Hall of Kannonji Temple, which became the main hall of Jin’nein Temple; hereby two temples has been located in the same premise since then. Jin’nein temple is up the stone steps from Kannonji Temple.
Manno-ike Pond in Manno-cho, Nakatadotsu-gun, Kagawa Prefecture is the largest irrigation pond in Japan. It has the maximum water storage volume of 1,540 tons. It has been called by its nickname “Manno Taro.”
It is said that the pond was constructed in the Daido era (701-704) by the lord of Sanuki province, Michimori Ason. It can be said that the history of Manno-ike Pond is that of its repair works.
In 818, it was destroyed by a flood for the first time and left abandoned until in 821, when Kobo Daishi was sent as the construction supervisor by the emperor of the time. It is well-known that Kobo Daishi repaired and expanded the pond in only 3 months.
However, the pond was repeatedly destroyed by floods in the later periods. In 1625, Nishijima Hachibei, an expert civil engineer and a retainer of the province lord, took up a repair work and completed it in 1631. Still in the later periods, the pond had been destroyed by flood or earthquakes several times and had been repaired by the efforts of many people. It was lastly repaired to the present form in 1942.
Henjoin Temple in Chiryu City, Aichi Prefecture, is a temple of the Shingon sect. It is a historic temple founded by Kobo Daishi Kukai. It is said that, in 822, Kobo Daishi carved the three self-portrait statues and founded three temples, which are now called “Mikawa 3 Kobo Holy Temples.” Henjoin Temple is the 1st of the 3 Holy Temples. The statue has been treasured as the principal image of worship. As it is kept as a hibutsu (secret Buddha statue), it is displayed only on March 21 on the lunar calendar, the obit of Kobo Daish. It is popularly called “Mikaeri (Looking-back) Kobo Daishi.”
Passing through the old main gate, you will find a large precinct with many halls and statues including the bell tower. You can experience “Kaidan-meguri,” a tour in the dark underneath the altar in the main hall. The fair is held on the monthly obit of the Kobo Daish, when the street from Chiryu Station to the temple is lined with outdoor stalls and bustled with people.
Jigenin Temple in Hineno, Izumisano City, Osaka Prefecture, is a temple belonging to the Omuro School of the Shingon Sect of Buddhism. The principal object of worship is Dainichi Nyorai. It is the 12th temple of the 18 Holy Places of Butto-koji (Old Temples with Pagodas).
The temple was established in 673 by a high-ranked priest named Kakugo by the order of Emperor Tenmu. It is said to be the oldest temple in the Senshu district of Osaka. Later in the Heian period, Kobo Daishi, the founder of the Shingon sect, stayed here and constructed many temple buildings including the original Tahoto pagoda and the Kondo hall.
The present Tahoto pagoda, constructed in 1271, is known for its beauty and compactness. It is said to be one of Japan’s three most distinctive pagodas, and is designated as a National treasure.
It is a 10.8-meter tall two-story pagoda with a cypress bark roof. The veranda without railing is build around the first floor. The door is made of a single, thick wooden plank. Windows with vertical wooden laths called “renji-mado” are set in the upper wall on both sides of the door. The bracket complex is composed of two steps. In the space between the bracket systems on the front side, a frog-leg strut is used for giving an accent. Though small in size, the essence and elegance of Japanese construction is condensed into this small pagoda.
Tatekoshi Shrine located at the top of the hill next to Guzeiji Temple in Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a historic shrine known for housing the guardian god of this area. The enshrined deities are Ukano Mitama no Kami, Omiyahime no Kami and Sarutahiko no Kami.
It is said that Kobodaishi Kukai transferred the deity of Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto to this place and founded this shrine as an attached shrine of the temple when he founded Guzeiji Temple in 811. As the area around the shrine was on the Old Oshu Kaido Road and the Abukuma River, it was called “Tatenokoshi,” which meant “the strategic spot to protect the lord’s residence” from the enemies; hereby the shrine was named Tatekoshi Shrine. In 1867, the shrine was separated from the temple according to the ban of Shinbutsu Shugo (the fusion of Shinto and Buddhism) by the Meiji government.
At the entrance of the shrine is a unique stone lantern erected in 1924. The lantern is supported by four Sumo wrestlers and a fox is placed inside the lantern. The main gate and shrine pavilions were burned down by fires and the present buildings were all constructed in the Showa period.
Yakutousan Myosenji in Akiu Town, Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a temple of the Shingon sect, enshrining the Yakushi Triad as its principal object. It is said that Jikaku Daishi En’nin (794-864) selected this site as the susceptible place to the power of Yakushi Nyorai and founded this temple to guard Akiu Hot Spring. Since then, the temple is widely known as the temple to guard this hot spring town.
Akiu Hot Spring boasts a history of 1,500 years and has been called “Natori no Miyu (Honorable Hot Water of Natori),” as one of Japan’s three Honorable Hot Springs selected by the Imperial family.
Keeping the tradition since the founder of the sect, Kobo Daishi Kukai, “Kaji Kito,” the use of prayers for the healing of people’s ailments, is still practiced at this temple. It is said that the principal image of worship, the statue of Yakushi Nyorai, and the main attendants, Nikko and Gakko Bosatsu, and Juni Shinsho (twelve heavenly generals) protecting the triad are carved during the Heian period (794-1192) by a high-ranked priest at Mt. Hiei.
Akiu Onsen Child-Raising Yakushi Festival is held in the precinct on May 5 every year. Next to the temple is Akiu Onsen Communal Bathhouse, where local people enjoy soaking in a hot spring.
Nichirinji Temple was established by Priest Kukai about 1300 years ago. He sculpted himself the image of Juichimen Kannon (eleven-headed Kannon) and placed it as the main object of worship. Then he lit a holy fire to pray for the national prosperity and rich harvest in the morning and prayed for the souls of the dead in the evening. The temple was flourished as the ascetic training center of the northern Kanto and the southern Tohoku regions. In 989, it was counted as the 21st temple of Bando Kannon Pilgrimage. In 1880, the temple buildings were destroyed by a mountain fire, but the image of Kannon miraculously escaped damage. In 1915, the present temple buildings were built at the site where Kannon had been placed. From the observatory to the left of the main hall, you can see Mt. Fuji on a fine day. If you drive up the mountain for about 5 minutes, you will reach Yamizo Mine Shrine, which is said to have been established by Yamato Takeru.
Nobeoka Daishi Festival is held in April every year in the area centered around Imayama in Nobeoka City, Miyazaki Prefecture. It is the biggest spring event in the northern part of the prefecture and counted as one of the three largest spring festivals in Kyushu.
At the top of Mt. Imayama stands a statue of Kobo Daishi Kukai, which was erected in 1957. With a height of 17 meters and a weight of 11 tons, it is the largest statue of Kobo Daishi in Japan. Familiarly called “Odai’ssan,” Kobo Daishi has been respected by the people in Nobeoka as well as by the people all over the country. The festival is held for three days around March 21 on Lunar Calendar to commemorate the anniversary of his death and give gratitude to him.
The main event is the daimyo’s procession held on the final day. 1,700 citizens including Mayor participate in the parade wearing samurai’s or princesses’ costumes and walk through the city, dancing various local dances.