Daisho-in, the main temple of the Shingon Buddhist school of Omuro
Although Daishoin is not as well known as Itsukushima Shrine, it has many features that are well worth seeing. It is located at the foot of the thickly forested Misen, and is one of the most famous temples in Miyajima. Until the separation of Buddhism and Shintoism in the Meiji period, the head priest of Itsukushima Shrine engaged in politics here.multilexicon.daishobuilding
Click to see Daisho-in Temple Precincts Map.
Daisho-in Temple is one of the most prestigious Shingon Temple in the western part of Japan. In the 12th century, Emperor Toba founded his prayer hall in the temple. The temple had close links with Imperial Family until the 19th century. Emperor Meiji honored the temple by staying there in 1885. Until the Meiji Restoration of 1868, the temple had twelve affiliated temples. It also had a close relationship with Itsukushima Shinto Shrine on Miyajima Island.
You will find countless Buddhist teachings in the precincts. Simply standing here and being exposed to the serene atmosphere may enhance your peace of mind. Also following the numbered sites will offer you a comprehensive understanding of the temple.
Dai-hannyakyo Sutra (2) :
The six hundred volumes of Dai-hannyakyo Scripture were introduced from India by a Chinese monk named Sanzo. It is believed that touching these sutras will bring you enormous fortune.
Reiho-kan Hall (3) :
This hall was established to exhibit treasures possessed by Daisho-in Temple. These include the oldest seated Fudo Myo-o image with braided hair in Japan, designated as an important cultural asset by the central government.
500 Rakan Statues (4) :
Lining the steps to the temple are the statues of five hundred of Shaka Nyorai’s disciples. These images all have unique facial expressions..
Belfry (5) :
This bell was rung to tell the time in the morning, afternoon and evening in the past. Now it is rung to start the time for worship.
Sutra Registration Office (6) :
In this office, worshippers receive an acknowledgement from the temple after offering sutra transcription or recitation..
Information office (7) :
Various prayers and pilgrimages are registered in the office. Items related to Buddhism can be purchased here.
Juichimen Kanzeon Bosatsu (8) :
The Image of Kannon Bosatsu or Deity of Mercy has eleven heads, implying a commitment to look for all living creatures on earth to save them.
The image was enshrined at Itsukushima Shinto Shrine in the past. This fact shows the close connection between Shinto and Buddhism.
Sand Mandala (9) :
A gigantic mandala using colored sand depicts the divine figure of Kannon Bosatsu, the symbol of mercy. The mandala was made by Buddhist priests from Tibet.
Namikiri Fudo Myo-o (10) :
Fudo Miyo-o, or Immovable King, is an incarnated figure of Dainichi Nyorai, or Cosmic Buddha.
The image is characterized by the fierce face to show his determination to destroy evil. Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of three great unifiers of Japan in the 16th century prayed to this image for safety at sea and victory in battle.
1000 Fudo Images (11) :
Commemorating the succession of the current (77th) head priest, one thousand Fudo myo-o, or Immovable King, images were donated by worshippers.
The Goma Ritual of burning wooden sticks on which prayers are inscribed is held at ten o’clock every morning.
33 Incarnated Kannon Images (12) :
Kannon Bosatsu, or Deity of Mercy, is believed to have been incarnated thirty three times to save the common people from their suffering.
To show gratitude, thirty three incarnated figures are placed here.
Mani Wheels (prayer wheels) (13) :
Spinning the wheel is believed to invite blessings equivalent to reading one volume of the Hannya-shinkyon or Heart Sutra.
Maniden Hall (14) :
Maniden Hall is the main prayer hall where Sanki Daigongen, or the Three Awesome Deities of Mt. Misen, are enshrined.
Countless worshippers come and pray asking for contentment in their daily lives, good health and longevity. Prayers accompanied by a taiko drum are offered every day.
Maniden Bodaisho Room (15) :
One thousand images of Amida Nyorai, or Buddha of Infinite Light, believed to take the deceased to West Paradise, have been donated by worshippers.
The temple’s priests offer eternal memorial services for the ancestors of the worshippers.
Hōchōzuka Monument (16) :
A ceremony to give thanks to old kitchen knives that are no longer usable is held before this monument on March 8th.
Aizen Myo-o (17) :
King Aizen Myo-o is believed to save humans from wordly desires involving lust or sexual passion, thus leading to enlightenment.
Yakushi Nyorai (18) :
Yakushi Nyorai, or Medicine Buddha, is believed to maintain the health of worshippers.
Mizukake Jizo (19) :
Seven Jizo Bosatsu images are placed here, centered on the one believed to redeem the spirits of deceased babies and children.
Worshippers pour water on each of the Jizo images to console the souls of the loved ones.
Amida Nyorai (20) :
A prince of the Imperial Family served as the head priest of the temple. He was a devout follower of Amida Nyorai, or Buddha of Infinite Light, believed to take humans to West Paradise.
Daishi-do Hall (21) :
Kukai, posthumously known as Kobo Daishi, founder of the Shingon sect in the 9th century, is enshrined here.
Ichigan Daishi (22) :
If a worshipper prays for only one wish, that one wish is realized through the mercy of Kobo Daishi, founder of the Shingon sect.
Henjokutsu Cave (23) :
In this dimly lit cave are the sand and the principal Buddhist icons of the eighty eight temples of the prestigious pilgrimage route on Shikoku.
Worshippers believe that they are given the same blessings as people who make the pilgrimage to all the temples on the route.
Hakkaku Manpuku Hall (24) :
Miyajima’s famous Seven Deities of Good Fortune are enshrined in this octagonal hall. Believed to invite good fortune, a ceremony to appreciate these deities is held on July 7th every year. (7/7).
Shaka Nehan Hall (25) :
The image shows Shaka Nyorai, or Shaka Buddha, entering Nirvana surrounded by his sixteen disciples.
Worshippers’ Hall (26) :
Worshippers can use this all for sutra transcription between 9 am and 3 pm. All visitors are welcome to taste herb tea comprised of 16 herbs for good health.
Rokkaku Sabo Tea Room (27) :
A cozy tea room operated by the temple is situated near the Niomon Gate. It provides a relaxed atmosphere to the visitors.
Some information about Buddhism
Buddism is a world religion founded by Shakyamuni, or the historical Buddha, in India on the River Ganges in the 5th century BC.
The supreme objective of Buddhism is to reach Buddhahood by attaining enlightenment and eradicating suffering through practicing Shakyamuni's teachings. It is believed that Buddhism was introduced to Japan in the 6th century AD.
The Shingon Sect and Other Buddhist Sects in Japan
The Shingon sect is known as esoteric Buddhism in Japan. The sect teaches that humans can attain enlightenment through rituals combining physical, spoken and mental disciplines.
In the Shingon sect, Buddhist priests and worshippers chant the Shingon words in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit. It is believed that through chanting the Shingon words, humans show their allegiance to various Buddhist deities and acquire blessings. “Nam Honzon Kaie”, meaning “I entrust myself to all deities”, is the Shingon phrase applicable to all deities.
Kobo Daishi Kukai, Founder of the Shingon Sect
Kukai, posthumously known as Kobo Diashi, is the founder of the Shingon sect. In 804, aged 31, he went to Tang China. He mastered profound esoteric teachings under Keika, a leading Buddhist priest, in the then-capital city of Xian. His achievements include establishing the first comprehensive school for common people and repairing irrigation ponds. Kobo Daishi is also well-known as one of the three greatest calligraphers of Japan.
Introduction to Buddhist Deities
In esoteric Buddhism, Dainichi Nyorai, or Cosmic Buddha, is believed to embody Buddhist philosophy, and other various Buddhist deities are incarnated in figures of Dainichi Nyorai.
There are four groups of Buddhist deities: Nyorai, Bosatsu, Myo-o, and Ten.
Nyorai, commonly called Buddhas, are the highest deities in Buddhism. They are the ones who have attained enlightenment.
As a sign of their enlightenment and liberation from desire, all Nyorai images are without possessions such as jewelry or other ornaments.
Bosatsu, or Bodhisattvas, are the ones who are undergoing ascetic training to attain enlightenment. However, Bosatsu are not ordinary ascetics. They are the ones who are committed not to becoming Nyorai unless all sufferers on earth are saved.
To show their determination, Bosatsu images hold various objetcs.
Myo-o deities are the envoys from Dainichi Nyorai, or Cosmic Buddha. Their fierce facial expressions show their strong determination to make humans follow Buddhist teachings.
The frighteningly faced Fudo Myo-o, or Immovable King, holds a sword and rope as manifestations of his determination.
Ten are originally ancient Indian deities and are guardians of Buddhism.
Ten images are often placed close to Nyorai or Bosatsu images, showing their commitment to protecting these divine entities, Bishamon Ten, symbol of victory and wealth, is among them.
Tengu, Indispensable Entities to the Holy Sites on Mountains
Tengu, with wings and long nose, have been considered to possess supernatural powers since ancient times.
Various Tengu legends and faiths were created, leading them to deification. Tengu are indispensable to the holy sites in mountains.
Why do Jizo Bosatsu wear red bibs?
Jizo Bosatsu images are depicted differently from other Bosatsu images. Jizo images are usually depicted as Buddhist monks holding walking sticks. In some cases, Jizo images are wearing red bibs and caps like babies.
Parents who have lost their children take good care of Jizo images, as though they were their lost children.
What is the Goma Ritual?
At temples belonging to the Shingon sect, you might see a priest at the Buddhist altar chanting Shingon words and keeping a little fire burning. This is called the Goma Ritual.
Priests burn sticks called Goma that hold the prayers of worshippers and chant the Shingon words, asking for magical power from the deities.