When Oda Nobunaga constructed Azuchi-Momoyama Castle in 1578, he invited the priest Oyo Meikan, who had resided at Jogonbo Temple and whose virtue Nobunaga had long respected, to his new castle town and constructed a temple in the ruins site of Jionji Temple, which used to be the family temple of the Sasaki clan, governor of Omi province, and Nobunaga named the new temple Jogonin Temple.
In 1579, the Azuchi religious debate took place between monks of the Nichiren and Jodo sects of Buddhism, at this temple. Nobunaga used this debate as a good opportunity to weaken the power of influence held by the Nichiren sect. The debate ended with the defeat of the Nichiren sect, which lost its powewr since then. Delighted with their victory, the monks of the Jodo sect chanted Kachidoki-nenbutsu (nenbutsu for victory), which has been dedicated to Buddha in November every year.
The stately main hall was what used to be the main hall of Koryuji Temple in Omihachiman City. It was dismantled and rebuild here. The Romon gate in Irimoya-zukuri style stands since the days of old Jionji Temple. These two structures and five pieces of the temple’s treasure are nationally designated as Important Cultural Properties, which include the wooden statue of sitting Amida Buddha, the pagoda-shaped sarira container housed in Zushi (a miniature Buddhist shrine), the silver statue of standing Amida Buddha housed in Zushi, the depicted image of Sanno Gongen in the Kenpon-Chakushoku style (silk-based colored picture) and Amida Shoju Raigozu (Amitabha mandala) in the Kenpon-Chakushoku style.
Nyoirinji Temple located in Yoshinoyama, Yoshino-cho, Nara Pref. is a temple of Jodo sect. It was founded in the Engi era (901-923) by the priest Nichizo Doken Shonin, a son of the Monjo Hakase (Professor of Literature) Miyoshi Kiyoyuki. The principal image is Nyoirin Kannon. In 1336, when Emperor Go-daigo was defeated in Nanbokucho Wars and set up the Southern Court in Yoshino, the temple became the place where the emperor offered prayers. The temple is known for the episode that when Kusunoki Masashige set out for the battle of Shijo Nawate in Osaka, he carved the death poem on the door of the hall with an arrowhead.
In 1650, when the priest Tetsugyu restored the main hall, the temple was converted from the Shingon sect to the Jodo sect. A lot of precious cultural properties are displayed in the Treasure House of the temple including the statue of angry-faced Zao Gongen and the picture of Kannon, which is popularly called “Ne-ogami Kannon (Kannon to be worshipped in the lying posture)” because it is painted on the ceiling and which is said to be the largest one of this type. Standing in the precinct, visitors can feel the long history and tradition at this temple of Nyoirinji.
Konhira-guu is a shrine built halfway up Zouzui-zan Mountain in Kotohira-cho, Nakatado-gun, Kagawa Prefecture.
Like Oise-mairi, which was a pilgrimage to Ise Shrine and a popular leisure time activity among common people during the Edo period, Konhira-mairi also drew many visitors from all over the nation.
Konhira-guu Shrine is worshiped as a deity of shipping and seafarers and dedicated to Oomononushino-kami.
Konhira-guu was recognized as a shrine in 1010 following the restoration of its main building and torii by Fujiwara Saneaki by order of the emperor. The shrine was known as Konhira-daigongen prior to the Meiji period.
In the middle of the path to the shrine stands a grand gate built by Matsudaira Yorishige, an elder brother of Mito Mitsukuni and the first lord of the Takamatsu Clan. After the gate there is a stone stairway with 365 steps leading up to the shrine.
Inside the shrine is Asahino-yashiro, made from Keyaki trees which has Dou-gawarabuki tiles and a Nisou-irimoya style roof. The building is a designated Important Cultural Property. After passing Yashiro visitors arrive at the imposing main shrine.
Konhira-guu is one of the most famous sites in Shikoku.
Mukabaki Shrine located at the southern foot of Mt. Mukabaki in the western part of Nobeoka City, Miyazaki Prefecture, is a historic shrine founded in 718 by transferring the deity from Kumano Taisha Shrine in present Wakayama Prefecture. The enshrined deities are Izanagi no Mikoto, Izanami no Mikoto and Yamato Takeru no Mikoto. Being called Mukabakidake Sansho Daigongen (the Great Three Gods of Mt. Mukabaki), the shrine was worshipped by the successive lords of the Hyuga domain.
The huge precinct is covered with densely grown trees, among which the main hall stands in the tranquil atmosphere. The trail up Mt. Mukabaki starts from the precinct.
Mt. Mukabaki (813 m) is a fine mountain with precipitous flat cliff, which looks like a folding screen. It was named so when Yamato Takeru visited this place to conquer the Kumaso tribe and said that the mountain looked like a “mukabaki,” which was a fur to wrap around the waist.
Kumano Hongusha Shrine in Takadate, Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a shrine associated with Kumano Worship. What is called Kumano Worship is the faith in Kumano Sanzan, a set of three Grand Shrines located in the southeastern part of the Kii Mountain Range in Wakayama Prefecture; Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Hayatama Taisha and Kumano Nachi Taisha. It had spread all over the country in the late Heian period and onward.
Kumano Shrines have become located in various parts of Japan as Kumano Worship spread in the country; however, Natori is the only the place that has three Kumano Grand Shrines. It is said that in the late Heian period, a mountain practitioner visited an old shrine priestess in Natori and passed on a message from Kumano Gongen, the deity of Kumano Sanzan. To hear this, she decided to found the three Kumano Great shrines in Natori in 1123.
Comparing Mt. Takadate (Mt. Natori) to the Kumano Mountains, the Natori River to the Kumano River and Sendai Bay to the Kumanonada Sea, Natori Kumano Sanzan has become the largest-scaled sacred site of Kumano Worship in the Tohoku region.
Kumano Hongusha Shrine is located in the northernmost of the three shrines. Honden (the main hall) is a stately building with a Kokera-buki (thin wooden shingles) roof.
A Deer Dance, which is designated as an intangible cultural property of Natori City, has been handed down at this shrine. It is a traditional dance, in which dancers wear a deer head and carry the red and the yellow flags on their backs. The name of the shrine is written on the red flag, while the four-character idiom of kanji meaning “Hope for a rich harvest” is written on the yellow one.
Osaki Hachiman Shrine in Tajiri in Osaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, is the origin of Hachiman shrines in Hachiman in Sendai City and Furukawa Eai and Iwadeyama in Osaki City. It has an old shrine with a history of 1,000 years.
The hill continuing toward north from the shrine is thought to be the ruins of Nitta no Saku (the fortification) constructed by the central government from the Nara to Heian periods (in around 8th century). In 1057, Minamoto no Yoriyoshi and his son, Yoshiie, transferred the deity from Iwashimizu Hachimangu Shrine in Kyoto to Tengugaoka in the northern part of present Tajiri Yawata in Osaki City and prayed for their victory before they fought with the forces of Abe Yoritoki and Abe no Sadato, which is known as “Zen Kunen no Eki” or Earlier Nine Years’ War (1051-1062). After they defeated the Abe clan, they transferred the deity from Iwashimizu Hachimangu Shrine and founded the three shrines in Tajiri, Izawa and Kurihara.
The shrine was faithfully revered by the Osaki clan in the later period and the shrine building was constructed in 1361, when it was renamed Osaki Hachiman Shrine. Later, at the beginning of the 17th century, Date Masamune relocated it to Iwadeyama and then to his castle town, Sendai, where he constructed a gorgeous shrine in the Gongen-zukuri style. The shrine was relocated to this place again in the later period by the Date clan.
Kumano Nachi Shrine in Takadate, Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a historic shrine. The enshrined deity is Kotosakao no Mikoto and other six deities. Its origin dates back to 719, when a fisherman living in Yuriage in present Natori City discovered a sacred body at the bottom of the sea and enshrined it at the top of Mt. Takadate, naming it Haguro Daigongen Shrine.
Later in the late Heian period, an old shrine priestess in Natori received a message from Kumano Gongen, the deity of Kumano Sanzan in Kii province (present-day Wakayama Prefecture), and decided to found the three shrines composing the Kumano Sanzan in Natori. She transferred the deity at Kumano Nachi Shrine to Haguro Daigongen Shrine, and renamed it Kumano Nachi Shrine.
In the shrine office, about 160 wall hanging Buddha images and copper mirrors, which were made in the Kamakura period (1192-1333), are preserved. Of these, 37 hanging Buddha images and 4 copper mirrors are nationally designated Important Cultural Properties. In the precinct, a huge Japanese conifer tree called “Koya-maki” with a trunk diameter of 112 cm vigorously extends its branches. Presently, the shrine is famous for housing the god of a rich harvest and a bumper catch.
Takisan Toshogu Shrine was built in the precinct of Takisanji Temple in Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture, by the order of the 3rd Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu in 1645 in order to enshrine Tosho Daigongen (Tokugawa Ieyasu). It is counted as one of Japan’s three largest Toshogu shrines.
A Tendai temple Takisanji, which enshrines Sho Kannon as its principal object of worship, was founded by En no Gyoja in the latter half of the 7th century.
Toshogu Shrine had been administered by Takisanji Temple until it was separated from the temple according to the Meiji government’s policy of separation of Shinto and Buddhism.
Honden (the main hall) in Toshogu-style is a colorful building with copper roof. Honden, Haiden (oratory), Heiden (the votive offerings hall), the middle gate, the torii gate and Mizuya (kitchen) are nationally designated as Important Cultural Properties.
The row of stone lanterns dedicated by the successive lords of the Okazaki domain speaks for the power of the Tokugawa family in the Edo period.