Yakuoin Yukiji Temple located in Takao-machi, Hachioji City, Tokyo is one of the three Daihonzan (head) temples of the Chizan school of the Shingon sect in the Kanto region. The main objects of worship are Yakushi Nyorai and Izuna Gongen. The temple is the 5th fudasho-temple of the Kanto 91 Pilgrimage to Yakushi Nyorai, the 8th of the Kanto 36 Sites Sacred to Fudo Myoo and the 68th of the Tama 88 Holy Sites. As many as 2,500 ancient documents are preserved at this temple.
It is said that the temple was founded in 744 by the monk Gyoki under the order of Emperor Shomu. As the statue of Yakushi Nyorai was placed at the foundation, the temple has been called Yakuoin. Later, a priest from Mt. Daigo in Kyoto founded a mountain practice ashram to worship Izuna Gongen, the deity who is believed to be residing in Mt. Iizuna in Nagano Prefecture. In the Edo period, an organization of mountain practitioners named “Takao-kou” was formed. Since then the temple has been the center of Takao Shugendo practice up to the present time.
Eifukuji Temple is known as the site of the kofun (tomb) of Prince Shotoku. It is one of the New Saigoku Pilgrimage of 33 Temples, which was newly selected based on Prince Shotoku’s idea of “harmony” as a priority over all other virtues. In 724, after the death of the prince, the emperor Shomu ordered to build a temple to repose the soul of Prince Shotoku. The temple was burned down by the attack of Nobunaga Oda during the Warring States period, but it was rebuilt by Hideyoshi Toyotomi. If you go up the stone steps, you will see the South Gate. Walk through the gate, and then you will see the houtou (a treasure pagoda), the main hall, and the Shoryo-den (a memorial hall of Prince Shotoku) on your left. In the back of the precinct is the Prince Shotoku’s tomb. Shoryo-den is a designated Important Cultural Property. The principal image worshipped inside is said to be Prince Shotoku’s life-size statue when he was 16. It is said to have been placed in the ancient Imperial Palace in Kyoto but donated to this temple by the emperor Gotoba in 1187. Around the temple there are a lot of places associated with Prince Shotoku. You will be impressed by the length of the history all through which people have paid respect for the Prince.
Ishiyamadera Temple in Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture, is the Bakkaku-Honzan (extra-status cathedral) of the Toji Shingon sect. The principal object of worship is Nyoirin Kannon. It is the 31st Holy Place of Saigoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage, the 1st of Goshu 33 Kannon Pilgrimage and the 3rd of Omi Kannon Pilgrimage.
The temple was founded in 747 by the priest Roben under the order of Emperor Shomu. Together with Kiyomizudera Temple in Kyoto and Hasedera Temple in Nara, it is one of the few magnificent temples in Japan.
Tahoto pagoda at this temple was constructed in 1194. It is the oldest of all the Tahoto pagodas whose construction years are identified. It is a 17.2 m tall pagoda with a Japanese cypress-bark roof. Surrounded by the railings with Giboshi (onion-shaped metal decorations), it has the wooden paneled doors in the center, on both sides of which are lath windows. The struts placed in the spaces between pillars are simple short posts.
The beautiful curved roof line and well-balance and stable building design are in good harmony. As a masterpiece of the ancient architecture in Japan, it is designated as a National treasure.
The pagoda houses the statue of Dainichi Nyorai carved by Kaikei, the master Buddhist sculptor in the Kamakura period.
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.
The 31st Sacred Place on the 88 Shikoku Pilgrimage. In the Nara period, Emperor Shomu (reigned 724-749) had a dream that he was worshipping Monju Bosatsu (Bodhisattva) in Mount Wutai in China. He thought there must be a holy place that looked like Mount Wutai in Japan and ordered Priest Gyoki to make a search for it. In 724, Priest Gyoki found such a mountain, where he founded a temple and named it Godaisan (Japanese translation of Mt. Wutai) Chikurinji Temple. Later in the Heian period, Kobodaishi Kukai (774-835) visited the temple and designated it as a Sacred Place.
The present main hall called Monju-do (Bodhisattva Hall) was built during the Bunmei era (1469-1486). It is a one-story building in Irimora-zukuri style with a Kokera-buki (thin wooden shingles) roof. It enshrines the secret statue of Monju Bosatsu. Opposite the main hall stand Daishi-do Hall and the 32 m tall five-story pagoda painted in bright vermillion.
Located on top of the 115 m hill about 6 km away from the central part of Kochi City, the temple is also the most popular scenic spot in Kochi City. Visitors can command a fine view of the whole city and Urado Bay as well.
Soneiji temple located in Toyosawa, Fukuroi City, Shizuoka Pref. is a Bekkaku Honzan (a special headquarters) of the Shingon sect. The principal object of worship is Sho-Kanzaon Bosatsu and Yakuyoke Kanzeon. The temple was established in 725 by Priest Gyoki under the order of Emperor Shomu.
The two-storied Nio-mon Gate in Irimoya-zukuri (hip-and-gable style) with a Kokera-buki (thin wooden shingles) roof. This high gate has one opening in 3 bays, which gives a magnificent impression. The architectural taste of the Azuchi Momoyama period (1568-1598) can be strongly sensed from the gate. It is a nationally designated Important Cultural Property. Two statues of Kongo Rikishi (protector deities) guard the gate. Two stone monuments are erected inside the gate.
On a New Year’s day, the temple is crowded with a lot of visitors coming from all over the Kanto region. Both sides of the front approach to the gate are lined with stalls of souvenir and food venders.
Fujiidera Temple located in Fujiidera, Fujiidera City, Osaka Pref. is a temple belonging to the Omuro school of the Shingon sect. The principal image of Buddha is Juichimen Senju Sengan Kanzeon Bosatsu (Bosatsu with 11 faces, 1,000 arms and 1,000 eyes), which is a designated National Treasure. According to the temple record, it was established in 725 by the monk Gyoki under the orders of Emperor Shomu, and then it was revived by Prince Abo, a son of Emperor Heizei, in the Heian period (794-1192). However in reality, it is presumed to have been founded in the middle of the8th century as a family temple of the Fujii no Muraji clan, a descendant of the Beakje Kingdom. The old tiles in the Nara style excavated from the precinct indicate the temple was founded at some time in the 8th century. In 1510, many of the temple buildings were destroyed by an earthquake, and they were later restored to the present forms. AS the 5th temple of the Saigoku Pilgrimage Temples, it is visited by a lot of worshippers. Fujiidera Temple is a historic temple and its name became the origin of the town name.
Kuhon-ji Temple belongs to the Jodo-chionin sect and is located on the east side of Mt Katsuragi in Nara Prefecture. As a mountain temple it is known as Kaina-yama, and is also called Temple of Stone Buddhas.
Gyogi-osho founded the temple following a proclamation by the Shomu Emperor in the Nara period. It flourished again as a Kaina-senbo temple when Kukai (Kobo Daishi) came here.
The main statue of the temple is a wooden Amida-nyorai seated figure made in the late Heian period and has been designated as an Important National Cultural Asset.
The temple is also famous for its many stone Buddha statues. 1800 stone Buddha statues called the '1000 Stone Buddhas' line the way up the mountain to the temple. They are said to have been dedicated to console soldiers of the Narahara Clan who died in the battle against the North Imperial Court.
You can see the Three Yamato Mountains from high points on the mountain, and Kuhon-ji Temple is also popular as a great scenic spot.