Kinshoku-ji Temple was founded by Jikakutaishi, who was the third head priest of Hiei-zan Enryaku-ji Temple. It is said he followed a vision received in a dream and discovered a pine tree in which the spirit resided. He built the temple from the tree and placed a statue of Bishamonten there.
In 1235, more than three hundred years later, Shinran renovated the temple and installed Amida statue. According to a legend, during the renovation of the temple, a heavenly maiden descended on the temple and offered the brocade woven with lotus threads to the statue. Upon hearing the story, the imperial Court gave the temple a name, “Tenjingohou Kinshoku-no-ji”, roughly translated as a brocade temple protected by the heavenly gods, thus, the temple became known as Kinshoku-ji.
In the vast precinct of the temple stands the Amida-dou building in which the main Buddhism statue is enshrined and is designated as a Shiga prefecture important cultural asset. Other notable buildings are Goei-dou where Shinran’s portrait is kept, a treasure storage, a study room, a lecture hall and a bell tower.
Despite the fact the temple was destroyed by fires on numerous occasions, Miyagoden, made from a part of the imperial palace given by Emperor Higashiyama, survived and is intact today along with many valuable artifacts kept inside. One of such artifacts is the portrait of Shinran who just finished writing his masterpiece, “Kenjoudo Kyougyoushoumonrui”. The portrait reveals his profound sense of satisfaction.
Tozan washi paper is a traditional handicraft in Higashiyama, Ichinoseki City, Iwate Prefecture. There are several opinions as to its origin, but it is presumed to have started in the late Heian period, when the Fujiwara clan in Hiraizumi (in present-day Iwate Prefecture) was defeated by the forces of Minamoto no Yoritomo in 1189. Some of the Fujiwara’s warriors, who escaped from Hiraizumi, settled down in the area around Higashiyama and began to make paper as one of their daily commodities. In the city of Ichinoseki, there is a town named “Kamiagari,” which means a paper producing village in Kanji, from which this town is thought to be the birthplace of Tozan washi paper.
Only locally grown paper mulberry and Oriental paperbush are used as the materials. The original techniques have been precisely handed down to create high quality handmade washi paper, which is characterized by its natural color of paper mulberry, elegance, and durability. This simple-tasted paper is use for many purposes including Japanese sliding door paper, caligraphy, name cards and certificate paper. Tozan washi paper is a part of cultural heritage that was left by the Fujiwara clan of Hiraizumi.
Shinkomyoji Temple in Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture, is a temple of the Jodo sect. It is a historic temple famous as the family temple of the Matsudaira clan. The principal object of worship is Shaka Nyorai. The temple was founded in 1451 by the 3rd head of the Matsudaira clan, Matsudaira Nobumitsu, who took refuge in the Buddha under the guidance of the priest Shakuyo Zongei of the Chinzei school of the Jodo sect. The Shogunate gave a great degree of protection to the temple during the Edo period (1603-1868) as the family temple of the ancestors of the Shogun, and it bore the repair expense when the temple buildings were destroyed by fire.
The temple possesses a lot of cultural properties including the Kannon Hall, the statue of Yamagoe Amida Nyorai (Descent of Amida over the Mountains) of the Muromachi period (1336-1573), and the statue of Unchu Amida Nyorai (Amida on the Cloud) of the Nanbokucho period (1336-1392). The Kannon Hall was constructed in 1478 during the Muromachi period. The characteristics of the Zen-styled architecture in the mid-Muromachi period can be seen in the large camber on the outer side of the roof and the oni-gawara (decorative ridge-end tiles) atop the roof of the Somon Gate. The hall is nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property.
Kodaiji Temple, located at the foot of Mt. Higashiyama in Kyoto, is a Zen temple well-known as “the Temple of Hideyoshi and Nene.” Its full name is Kodai Jusho Zen-ji Temple, which was built in 1601 in memory of Hideyoshi Toyotomi by his wife, Nene (Kitano-mandokoro). She had decided to become a nun and moved to this temple, where she spent peaceful days until she died at the age of 76. Kaisan-do Hall, where the statues of her brother, Iesada Kinoshita and his wife are laid to rest, Otama-ya, where Nene was buried and the statues of Hideyoshi and Nene are worshipped together, Shigure-tei and Kasa-tei tea houses, Kangetu-dai (a kiosk to look at the moon) and the Main Gate are nationally designated historic sites or scenic beauty. Whenever you visit, you will find the glamour of the season; weeping cherry trees in spring, bamboo grove in summer, autumn leaves, and water mirrors in winter. This is the place where the relics of exquisite beauty of Kyoto are concentratedly put together.
Kodaiji Garden (Higashiyama in Kyoto City), which was recently restored by a contemporary master gardener, Yasuo Kitayama, had originally been designed by the renowned gardener Kobori Enshu, who designed many famous gardens in the early Edo period. The garden had been left ill-maintained for a long time before Kitayama’s restoration. “Before I got to work,” says Kitayama, “I thought about what ideas Kobori Enshu had wanted to represent in this garden.” If you stroll along the paths in the garden, you will notice everywhere his thoughtful consideration for the visitors to feel as if they are embraced by the nature. Above all, the most impressive is the garden surrounding Kaisan-do Hall with two ponds, which is filled with tranquil beauty. The best seasons are in fall, when the line of autumn leaves continues to the foot of Mt. Higashiyama, and in April, when cherry blossoms are in full bloom. Kodaiji Temple is also known as the first temple in Kyoto that puts on a night time light-up show during the limited time of the year. A lot of tourists visit this temple to enjoy the fantastic night garden. Kitayama is also responsible for directing this light-up show.
Sanjuusangen-dou is a temple located in Higashiyama, Kyoto. The temple is officially known as Rengeouinhondou. It belongs to and is run by Myouhou-in Temple. Sanjuusangen-dou was destroyed by fire in 1249 and later rebuilt in 1266.
The temple was originally built by Taira no Kiyomori in 1165 by order of Emperor Goshirakawa inside the premises of Houjyuu-ji Temple complex which the Emperor also built and lived in.
Sanjuusangen-dou (designated as a National Treasure) is translated as “a hall with thirty three spaces” and, as the name suggests, the temple has 33 bays. The columns extend for a distance of 118 meters. In Edo period, the temple held an archery tournament known as “Tooshiya” under the eaves. Even now, the temple holds the National Archery Competition on January 15th every year at their archery range located on the west side of the temple, keeping the tradition alive.
One thousand one statues of Thousand Armed Kannon are arranged in a spectacular scene inside the temple enchanting visitors.