Shichseiken or Seven Star Sword is a Japanese sword that is 62.1cm in length and belongs to the Shitennou-ji Temple located in Shitennouji-ku, Oosaka City, Oosaka. It is designated as a National Treasure.
Shitennou-ji Temple was built by Shoutoku Taishi in 598 and it is sacred to Kukanzeonbosatsu.
Along with Heishishourinken, another sword that is also kept in Shitennou-ji, Shichiseiken is said to have been much loved by Shoutoku Taishi.
The name Seven Star Sword came from the fact that the sword is engraved with seven golden stars in the shape of a plough, using a technique called zougan. Additionally, the front side of the sword is carved with 5 asukagumo, using the golden zogan technique and at both ends of the seven stars, there are three V-shaped stars and three stars aligned with a blue dragon and a white tiger. The back of the sword is also engraved with asukagumo, seven stars, a blue dragon and a white tiger.
Shichiseiken, by comparison to Heishishourinken, has a more noticeable residual metal substance called suragu, however, it uses a finer raw metal called koitame-hada and it has a hososugu blade.
Shichiseiken is a historically valuable sword that has been carefully preserved from an ancient period.
Looking as if it has no connection to this world, Kannonshoji Temple stands quietly near the top of Mt. Kinugasa, a 433 meter high mountain located on the eastern side of Lake Biwa. The temple is the 32nd of the Saigoku 33 Pilgrimage Temples, which are located in 6 prefectures in the Kinki region and Gifu Prefecture. This pilgrim route is said to be Japan’s oldest pilgrim route.
According to the temple record, Kannonshoji Temple was founded by Prince Shotoku (574-622). Then, in the Kamakura (1192-1333) and Muromachi (1336-1573) periods, it thrived under the protection of the Rokkaku clan and gained power of influence. During these periods, there were as many as 33 attached temples in the mountain.
In the later periods, the temple was involved in wars and relocated to another place. However, in 1597, it was moved again to its original location. Though having receded into the background today, the temple is visited by a lot of worshippers who offer prayers for good relationship in life.
Ganjoji Temple in Gamo Town in Shiga Prefecture is a historic temple pertaining to Prince Shotoku. It was one of Ganjojuji temples, which were established in 46 places all over the country to fulfill Prince Shotoku’s wishes to bring stability to the nation. It was originally a Tendai-sect temple, but was converted to the Soto sect in 1625 when the temple was restored by the Zen priest Sanei Honshu.
It is the 26th temple of Gamo Kannon Holy Sites, the 9th of Shaka 32 Zensatsu (Zen Temples) and the 24th of the 27 Meisatsu (Fine Temples) in Omi-Koto.
The principal image is a secret Buddha, which is open to the public once every 33 years. It is said that the face was modeled after Prince Shotoku’s mother.
In the Kannon-do Hall, what is believed to be a mermaid mummy is enshrined. According to an old story, the mermaid fell in love with a beautiful nun and visited the temple every day, disguising himself as a young man. A lot of stone art objects made in the Middle Ages are preserved in the main hall.
Shitennou-ji Temple, located in Tennouji-ku, Osaka City, Osaka, is the head temple of Wa Shuu or Japanese Buddhist sect. The principal image of Buddha is Guse Kanzeon Bosatsu. The temple is a part of Kansai Kannon Pilgrimage, the 25th temple of Settsukoku Pilgrimage and the first temple of Shoutoku Taishi Reiseki Temples.
Shitennou-ji is an ancient temple built by Shoutoku Taishi on the first year of Emperoro Suiko era (593).
Doya-doya Festival is said to date back to 827 when Shushoue, a New Year’s memorial service, first took place, and is counted as one of the Big Three Strange Festivals in Japan.
Shushoue, which starts on New Year’s Day, is dedicated to good luck for the year and to pray for world peace and rich harvests. Doya-doya Festival takes place on January 14th, the final day of Shushoue.
The festival is a majestic soul-stirring event in which young men who are divided into white and red groups and wearing only headbands and clad in loincloth strive to grab an amulet called gohei. The name, Doya-doya, came from a Japanese expression of a big crowd gathering noisily.
Even now Shitennou-ji Doya-doya is still a very well attended thriving traditional religious festival.
Heishoji Temple in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, is a temple of the Soto sect. According to the temple record written in 1616, it was founded by Prince Shotoku (574-622); it later became a temple of the Tendai sect and named Dandokuzan Daihimitsuin Temple; and when Prince Hirakatsu (平勝), the 3rd son of Emperor Go-Daigo, visited this temple to pray for victory, the temple name was changed to Heishoji (平勝寺).
The principal object of worship is the treasured wooden statue of Kannon Bosatsu. It was carved with the Yosegi-zukuri (assembled wood) technique and the writing contained inside the statue shows that it was made in 1159. The display of this secret Buddha is held once every 17 years. It is nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property.
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.
Myogenji Temple located amidst of the residential district near Okazaki Station is the oldest training ashram of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism in Mikawa province (present-day Aichi Prefecture).
There used to stand a castle at the place where the temple is located today. In 1235, Ando Nobuhira, the castellan who ruled Aomi county (present-day eastern part of Aichi Prefecture), invited Priest Shinran, who was on his way back to Kyoto, and listened to his preach in a small hall called “Taishi-do” in the castle area. Deeply moved by Shinran’s preaching, Nobuhira left secular life as a warrior and entered the priesthood. In 1258, he founded a temple and named it Myogenji (明眼寺).
In the late 16th century, Tokugawa Ieyasu stayed at this temple during the Ikko-Ikki battles because the temple had been worshipped by his father’s family, the Matsudaira clan. He presented the new kanji name (妙源寺) to the temple, allowing it to use the kanji “源,” which was the name of his ancestry family, the Minamoto clan.
Turning down a side street off the main road of Okazaki City, you will find a castle gate in Iyakumon-style. Go along the front approach until you get to the four-legged gate, beyond which you will find the precinct dotted with several temple structures including Taishido Hall, the main hall, the priest’s residential quarters and the bell tower.
Taishido Hall housing the statue of Prince Shotoku at age 16 is supposedly built in the middle of the Muromachi period (1336-1573). As there used to be a willow tree in front of the hall, it is popularly called “Yanagi-do (Willow Hall).”It is nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property.
Ukimido is a two-story pagoda in Ukimido Park on the northern side of Lake Toya in Hokkaido. This vermillion pagoda was constructed in 1937 to enshrine Prince Shotoku.
According to the local legend, a priest traveling in the northern part of Japan once stayed at an inn Matsuhashitei in Toya Village in the early Taisho period (1912-1926). About a month later, when he left this village, he gave the inn keeper the statue of Prince Shotoku, which he had been carrying all the way, and said, “If you enshrine this statue, the village will be prosperous with industries.” To keep this promise, the pagoda was constructed in 1937 and the statue was enshrined here.
The pagoda was however hit by a direct stroke of lightening in 2003 and burned down with the statue. The people in Toyako Town raised the fund to reconstruct it because they believed Prince Shotoku had sacrificed himself for them. The pagoda and the statue were restored in 2004. In July every year, Prince Shotoku Festival is held together with Lake Toya Summer Festival, when a lot of tourists enjoy the festival parade and fireworks display.