The summer festival is held on the 1st Saturday of August every year at Jogi Nyorai Saihoji Temple in Okura, Aoba-ku, Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture. Located in the heart of mountains near the border of Yamagata Prefecture, it is a stately and historic temple with the formal seven structures and the huge precinct.
At the end of the Heian period, Taira no Sadayoshi, a loyal retainer of the Taira clan, secretly moved to this location and changed his name Sadayoshi to Jogi because he wanted to hide himself from his enemies. When Sadayoshi passed away in 1198, his servants and followers built a small temple beside his graveyard and enshrined the Amida Buddha’s scroll in the temple according to his will.
The summer festival in August is held to appease the soul of Sadayoshi. The parade of mikoshi (portable shrine) and dedication of performing arts are held during the day, while beautiful fireworks are shot up into the darkness of the sky at night. The five-storied pagoda against colorful illumination of the fireworks looks fantastically beautiful.
Jokanji Temple in Matsuzaki Town in Shizuoka Prefecture is a temple belonging to the Honganji denomination of Jodoshinhsu. The principal object of worship is Amida Nyorai. It was founded by the priest Joshin during the Einin era (1293-1299).
The temple had declined since it was burned down in a big fire during the Genroku era (1688-1703) and was revived by the 13th resident priest, Honda Shokan. Jokanji Temple has been famous for its divine power to get rid of evils and bring happiness.
Jokanji Temple is also famous as the place where Chohachi Irie, a plaster artisan in the Meiji period (1868-1912) is buried. Although most of his representative plaster works in Tokyo were lost by Great Kanto Earthquake and fires caused by air raids on Tokyo, some 20 excellent works including Happo-nirami-no-ryu (the Dragon Glaring in Eight Directions) and Hiten (the Heavenly Maiden) are preserved in the main hall of the temple, which is open to the public as Chohachi Memorial Museum. The bronze bust of Chohachi and the stone monument are elected in the precinct.
Tofukuji Temple in Nishiizu Town in Shizuoka Prefecture is a temple of the Rinzai sect. The principal object of worship is Amida Nyorai. It was founded during the Tenpuku era (1233-1234) and originally called Tenpukuji Temple. It was relocated, however, to the present place during the Kagen era (1303-1305) and renamed Tofukuji Temple.
The temple is famous for the frescos of 500 Rakan (Buddha’s disciples) painted on the ceiling of the main hall. The frescos were painted by Toshimitsu Tamura, a Buddhist painter of the Taisho period (1912-1926), who was known as a deep drinker. It is said that it took him 4 years and 8 months to finish the work.
With the dragon in the center, the heavenly maiden at every corner and 500 Rakan surrounding them, this pictorial diagram of the heavenly world is really magnificent. The plastered ceiling and walls give the three dimensional effect to the marvelously colorful paintings.
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.
Oshokyoin Temple located in Nakauchida, Kikugawa City, Shizuoka Pref. is a temple of the Jodo sect. The principal object of worship is the statue of Amida Nyorai (quasi national treasure). The temple originates in Tengakuin Temple of the Tendai sect, which was established in 855 by the priest Jikaku Daishi as an Imperial prayer temple for Emperor Montoku. Later, Honen Shonin (1133-1212), the founder of the Jodo sect Buddhism, placed the statue of Amida here to the memory of his teacher, Koen Ajari, who was said to have transformed himself into the Ryujin (dragon god) to save people in Sakuragaike Pond in the neighboring town. The temple sect was changed from the Tendai sect to the Jodo sect and its name was also changed from Tengakuin to Oshokyoin at this time.
Oshokyoin is a branch temple of Chioin Temple in Kyoto. It is also known as the fudasho (a visiting place for pilgrims) for those who are born in the year of dragon and snake in Enshu (present-day Shizuoka Pref.) area. The temple possesses the manuscript of the Koen Ajari legend and the statue of Hafuki Amida Nyorai (Amida with mouth open). Up the stone steps at the entrance stands the Sanmon Gate (the temple gate), which was erected by the 2nd Shogun, Tokugawa Hidetada. In the precinct are full of unique objet d'art such as Nonbei Jizo (Bottle-man Jizo). There are also two of the Seven Wonders in Enshu, Mitabi-guri (a chestnut tree producing chestnuts three times a year) and Kataba-no-Ashi (the reed grass that has leaves on only one side of the stem).
Shingyoin Temple in the center of Hino Town in Shiga Prefecture is a temple of Jodo sect of Buddhism. It was the family temple of the Gamo clan, which ruled Gamo county from the Muromachi to the end of the Warring States periods (1336-1573).
The temple originates in a small hall built in Komikado Castle in 1349 by Gamo Takahide to enshrine Amida Nyorai. In the later periods, the hall was relocated with the relocation of the clan’s main castle; from Komikado Castle to Otowa and Nakano Castles. When Nakano Castle was abolished after the Battle of Sekigahara, it was relocated again to the present place, where Gamo Sadahide spent his retirement days.
The main hall was constructed in 1739 and it is a prefecturally designated cultural property. The temple also possesses the statue of Kannon carved by the priest Den Eshin. The ceiling of the main hall is decorated with the Japanese painting of a raging dragon painted by Takada Keiho (1674-1755), an artist painter of Kano School from Hino Town.
Kosenji Temple in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, is an historic temple pertaining to the Taira clan. In 1321, after the fall of the Taira clan, a descendant of Taira no Shigemori, known as Komatsu Naidaijin (Inner Minister), disguised himself as a mountain practitioner and came to this village, escaping from his enemies. He founded a temple named Komatsu-dera Temple, where he placed the statue of Amida Nyorai, which was his family’s guardian Buddha, and held memorial services for his deceased ancestors. Later, the temple was changed its name to Kosenji Temple.
The principal object of worship, the statue of Amida Nyorai, was presented to Shigemori by the temple in Auyung in present Ningbo City in China, and treasured as the guardian of the family. After it was enshrined at this temple, it has been named Komatsu Nyorai after Shigemori, and worshipped by local people.
The temple possesses a lot of cultural properties such as the statue of Idatenjin, the Jizo statue carved by Kaikei and the 12 ancestral tablets including the one for Shigemori, which make us think of the rise and fall of the Taira clan, who once ruled the country.
Saifukuji Temple in Kariya City, Aichi Prefecture, is a temple of the Soto sect. It is a historic temple founded by Kobo Daishi Kukai. The principal object of worship is Amida Nyorai. It is the 2nd temple of the Mikawa 3 Kobo Holy Temples.
It is said that Kobo Daishi carved the three self-portrait statues and founded three temples in this area in 822. The statue housed at Saifukuji Temple is popularly called “Miokuri (Seeing-Off) Kobo Daishi.”
During the Kansei era (1460-1463), Saifukuji Temple and the adjacent Unryoin Temple were destroyed by fire, after which the two temples were left unrestored and the principal images were placed in Kusayoshi-do Hall in the vicinity. In 1595, the priest Denshi Tekko restored the temple, which was named Unryoin Saifukuji Temple.
The present main hall was constructed in 1789. Beautifully trimmed pine trees surround the hall and the front approach. Next to the main gate stands a small hall housing Daikokuten, the god of happiness.