Temple 85, Yakuriji

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Precinct map

History of the temple

East of Yashima, across the ancient battlefield of the Genji and the Heike, lies the 375-meter-high Mt. Gokenzan. It is a mysterious mountain that looks as if five swords have been raised up from the ground. Yakuriji is located at the 8th station of the mountain. Many pilgrims take a cable car to the temple.

In 829, when Kobo Daishi performed Buddhist rituals on this mountain, five swords came down from heaven and the mountain's guardian, Zao Gongen, appeared and told him, "This mountain is a sacred place for Buddhism.” Kobo Daishi buried the swords in the mountain, carved a statue of Dainichi Nyorai (Mahāvairochana), and named the mountain Gokenzan (Five Sword Mountain).From the top of Gokenzan you could see eight historical prefectures including Sanuki (Kagawa), Awa (Tokushima), and Bizen (Parts of Okayama, Kagawa and Hyogo). Hence the original name of the temple was Hakkokuji (Eight Country Temple). During the Enryaku era (782-806), before going to China to study, Kobo Daishi climbed this mountain. He planted eight roasted chestnuts in order to predict the success of his quest to reach China. When he returned to Japan and visited the temple again, he found that the roasted chestnuts had sprouted, which should have been impossible. This is the reason for the temple’s name change from Hakkokuji to Yakuriji (Eight Chestnuts Temple).

This temple, like many others, was burned down during the invasion of Sanuki by Chosokabe Motochika. In the Edo period (1603-1867), Muhenn Shonin rebuilt the Hondo and then the feudal lord of Takamatsu, Matsudaira Yorishige, reconstructed the Hondo in its present form. The principal image of the temple is the statue of Sho Kanjizai Bosatsu (Bodhisattva Who Hears the Sounds of the World), created by Kobo Daishi, and the institutional name of the temple is now Kanjizaiin. Mt. Gokenzan suffered a major earthquake in 1706, and the eastern ridge of the five peaks collapsed, leaving it as it is today.

Highlights

Shotendo Hall

Shotendo, located next to the Hondo, enshrines the statue of the deity Kangiten which was given to Mokujiki Ikuu Shonin by Empress Tofukumonin, wife of Emperor Go-mizunoō (reigned 1611-1629). The deity is believed to bring success in business, academics, and marriage. It is popularly known as Yakuri no Shoten-san.

Chujobodo Hall

Chujobo is enshrined in the Chujobodo Hall located behind the Hondo. Chujobo is one of the three major tengu (Japanese folk deities) of Sanuki. He is said to come down from the mountain at night, do good things for people, and return to his home in the morning. People place geta (wooden clogs) next to the Chujobodo Hall and, if the geta are dirty the next day, it is said to be a sign that Chujobo has worked for that person.

Shorodo Hall

The Shorodo Hall was built in 1791. It contains an artistic temple bell with an inscription of a poem written by the poet and calligrapher Aizu Yaichi (Akikusa Michito).

Annual Events

January 1st to the 7th Shushoe (New Year's Prayer Ritual)
January 16 Daihannya Hoe (New Year’s Wisdom Sutra Chanting)
April 8 Hana Matsuri (Buddha's Birthday)
May 16 Daihannya Hoe (Spring Wisdom Sutra Chanting)
June 15 Aoba Festival (Kobo Daishi’s Birthday)
September 16 of the lunar calendar Daihannya Hoe (Autumn Wisdom Sutra Chanting)
Winter Solstice to Setsubun Hoshiku Goma (Star Goma Fire Ritual)
Open every day Shotenson Gokito (Prayer Ritual)
15th of every month and the last day of the month Shotenson Goma Kuyo (Goma Fire Ritual)
The first day of the month except January, February, July, August, and September Tsuitachi Mairi (First Day Temple Visit) Japanese sweets, Zenzai osettai

Details

  • Names: Gokenzan, Kanjizai, Yakuriji
  • Denomination: Shingon sect, Daikakuji school
  • Principal Image: Sho Kannon Bosatsu
  • Founder: Kobo Daishi
  • Founded: 829
  • Mantra of Sho Kannon Bosatsu: oṃ ālolik svāhā

Access

Address: 3416 Mure, Mure-cho, Takamatsu-shi, Kagawa 761-0121
Phone: 087-845-9603
Parking: Available (free of charge)
Lodging: None
Official website: http://yakuriji.jp/