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.
Haijima Daishi is a common name for a Tendai sect temple in Haijima-cho, Akishima City, Tokyo. It is formally named Hongakuji Temple. The main object of worship is Jie Daishi Ryogen, or Gansan Daishi, who was the 18th Tendai Zasu (the leader of the sect). The temple was one of the 8 temples to worship Dainichi Nyorai, which were dedicated in 1578 by Ishikawa Tosanokami in appreciation for his daughter, Onei, having recovered from an eye disease. The temple is known for getting rid of bad luck.
The Dharma Market is held at this temple on January 2nd and 3rd every year because January 3rd is the memorial day of Jie Daishi. The dharma market is called “Tama Daruma” and about 600 dharma doll vendors set up the stalls along the front approach. As a Japanese proverb goes “Nanakorobi, Yaoki” meaning “To fall seven times, to rise eight times,” a dharma doll is a lucky often purchased on New Year’s Day. During the market days, the temple is thronged with visitors who come for the year’s first worship at the temple and for buying dharma dolls.
Chohoji Temple in Shimotsu Town in Wakayama Prefecture is a temple of the Tendai sect of Buddhism. It is known for the graveyard of the successive lords of the Kishu domain. The Daimon gate, the main hall and the Tahoto pagoda are designated as National Treasures.
This Tahoto is a two-story pagoda with tiled roof. It is presumed to have been built in 1357. On top of the roof is the decorative finial. Fine woodwork is given to every part of the building including the bracket complex under the roof of the lower story and the closely spaced parallel rafters at the eaves of the upper story.
It is said that the lower story is supported by four pillars and an alter housing the statue of Dainichi Nyorai is placed inside the lower level. With a height of 13.4 m, this pagoda is relatively small in size, it is said to be a well-balanced masterpiece, gracefully constructed in the pure Japanese style.
Tahoto is a two-storied pagoda composed of a square lower story and a cylindrical upper story. This Tahoto pagoda is one of many cultural properties that have been preserved at Ishidoji Temple in Minamiboso City in Chiba Prefecture. The temple is said to have been founded by Priest Gyoki in 726 and to be the oldest temple in the southern part of Boso Peninsula.
It is said that the Tahoto pagoda was constructed in 1545 by Satomi Yoshitaka, the ruler of this province during the Warring States period. It is a 13-meter tall pagoda with Japanese cypress bark roof and elaborate wood carvings. The lower story is supported by four pillars and the altar inside the pagoda houses the statue of Senju Kannon (Kannon with 1,000 arms). The pagoda is a prefecturally designated important cultural property.
Yukinodera, or formally named Ryuoji Temple and locally called Nodera, at the foot of Mt. Yukinoyama (308 m) in Ryuo Town in Shiga Prefecture is a temple of the Tendai sect. The principal object of worship is Yakushi Nyorai. It was founded as Yukinodera Temple by Priest Gyoki in the middle of Nara period (710-794). In the later periods, however, the temple buildings were destroyed by fire many times and it was renamed Ryuoji Temple when restored in the Heian period (794-1192).
With the legend of a beautiful woman, who was actually a snake, the bell at the temple is well-known to local people since old days. The statues of Juni Shinso, the twelve heavenly generals, surrounding the principal object of worship are collectively designated as a national Important Cultural Property.
A lot of people visit this temple in hope of recovery from asthma on August 15 on the old calendar, when Hechima-kaji (Gourd Ritual) is performed.
Izaki Pole Diving is a Buddhist rite held on the 1st Sunday of August every year at Izaki Temple in Shirao Town in Omihachiman City, Shiga Prefecture. Izakiji Temple located at the tip of the small peninsula protruding into Lake Biwa is a temple belonging to the Tendai sect. It is said that the temple was founded in the Teikan era (859-877) by Priest Gyoki.
Pole Diving is a Buddhist rite, in which people dive into Lake Biwa from a 13 meter pole that sticks out under a cliff about 7 meters above the water level of the lake. It is said that this rite dates back about 1,100 years ago, when Konryu Daishi of Mt. Hiei trained himself at this temple. He would often threw an empty bowl down to a fishing boat passing below the temple and asked fishermen for charity, and then he dived into the lake to retrieve it.
It is performed to pray for getting rid of bad luck and also testing for participants’ courage, which is a vestige of harsh ascetic training performed by Tendai monks. The spectators on fishing boats on the lake erupt into cheers and applause when gallant young men dive into the lake with splashes of water in the strong sunshine.
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).
It is said that this temple was founded in 794 by the priest Saicho, the founder of the Tendai sect of Buddhism, as the east gate of Hieizan Enryakuji Temple, which had been constructed 6 years before as the headquarters of the sect. When Emperor Kanmu visited the temple, he named it Hieizan Tomonin Moriyamadera, which means the temple guarding the east gate of Mt. Hiei.
During the Edo period (1603-1868), the temple was used as the lodge for Joseon Royal Embassies, the Joseon envoys intermittently sent to Tokugawa Shogunate of Japan. In 1986, the main hall and Kuri (the priests’ quarters) were burned down by a fire. The statue of Juichimen Kannon (Kannon with 11 faces) housed in the main hall was also destroyed by fire. The main hall was reconstructed and the statue was restored to its original form in 1990.
The statue of Fudo Myoo, which is the principal object of worship in Goma Hall and survived the fire undamaged, and the five-story stone pagoda in the corner of the precinct are designated as national Important Cultural Properties. Together with other art objects, they tell us of the temple’s 1,200 year history.