The Mountain of Devotion: The Origins of Dainichibo at Mt.Yudono
A great religious leader opened Dainichibo in the 2nd year of the Daido Era(AD 807). Originally named Kyooyugaji, later it was changed to Ryusuiji-kongoin. At that time, women were forbidden to worship at Mt.Yudono, but they were able to visit and pray at Dainichibo, the main temple of Mt.Yudono. Dainichibo was rebuilt by Kasuga no Tsubone, and records show the Sakai Clan made considerable donations to the temple. The present temple was moved from its original location by landslide in 1936.
According to a discovered marker, Niomon Gate was built in the Kamakura Era(1185-1333), making it the oldest Niomon Gate in Yamagata prefecture. A Japanese cedar tree over 1,800 years old stands within the original grounds and has been designated a natural monument by the prefecture. It is called the “imperial altar” because it was planted on the gravesite of Prince Mimurowake, the son of Emperor Keiko. In 1971, Prince Ayanomiya made a visit to the tree.
In addition, Hokyointo(a stone monument), the biggest Koshinto stone monument in Japan, and sokushin-butsu(living Buddha) are found at the temple. They are some of the many cultural treasures located here at the most sacred mountain in the northeast, Mt.Yudono.
Oami Guardhouse stands in the former temple grounds. The area from Watanae to Oami, and from Oami to Oisawa was called Rokuju-ri Kaido. In the old days, the distance of one ri was called six ri , and ten ri (40km) was called 60 ri.
Dainichibo is an historic temple boasting artifacts excavated from the original site, the holy ground of the living Buddhas, the restored Kannondo Temple built in the early Edo Era, various national treasures, and many mysteries.
Yama-dera is a historical site located North east of Yamagata city. It is a small mountain climb with steep steps which reach the peak where you can overlook the amazing mountainous landscape from a small open temple at the mountains edge.
On our arrival to Yama-dera we first crossed a red bridge that lead onto a small hill where souvenir shops were on either side of the road. The shops sold things such as sandogasa hats, dango and other local cuisine as well as a few fruit markets which had a delicious selection of apples. As you reach the near top of the hill we turned left to reach a small temple named konponchudo temple and a pot of burning incense.
Continuing down, you will eventually come across the temple gate after passing a few other shrines and smaller temples. You will have to pay a small entry fee to begin your climb up Yamadera to Risshakuji temple.
The climb up is interesting but beware as the stairs can be a little narrow. The climb goes through a forest with amazing cedar and various other large trees, you will pass many wooden temples and there are interesting stops along the way. Oyamiishi is a cliff face and engraved into it is a something which is difficult to discern but many people had stuck coins into the crevasses for good luck and making wishes. This is a common occurrence up yamadera and you will see coins that have been placed into various trees, shrines and sculptures along the way. Nearer the mountain peak you will go through niomon gate where the ni-yo guardians ‘a’ and ‘un’ (which mean the beginning and the end of all things) stand at either side of the entrance.
Near the mountain peak there is a small cluster of wooden temples and houses and is quite a site to see. You are able to walk along the mountain paths and look down at the steep valley below or continue up the path to open temple viewing point, I was recommended to come here either in the early summer or winter when the skies are clearer to be able to see further into the valley. Along the right hand path if you look across the valley you will see a small wooden house on the mountain cliff edge which is an amazing sight to see and for me was a highlight of visiting yama-dera. At Risshakuji temple I bought a fortune slip and picked up a ‘moderate fortune’.
Unfortunately I cannot read kanji and had trouble making sense of what my fortune was, but overall it was telling me to ‘enjoy and not to rush my work and be careful when travelling from west to east’, this was both coincidentally accurate to my current situation and had be feeling rather apprehensive. But overall was great fun to translate with the help of my friends. Many people tie their paper fortunes to the wooden beams or trees in the area but I decided to take mine along with me because of the small but nice illustrations that are on the slip.
On the way down it began to get very busy but there are a few hidden paths and shortcuts in the amongst the forest to look out for to avoid the crowds.
Back at the base of Yamadera we came across a small shop selling many hand made ceramics and stone carved sculptures such as the roundish ‘o-jizo’ figures. They also had a kokeshi doll workshop where the daughter of a local kokeshi painter was running the workshop. Just outside of the shop was a small vendor selling freshly made dango. This is highly recommend after you finish your climb up yamadera as konjac is a healthy and filling snack.
Welcome to Johgi Nyorai Johgi Nyorai Saihoji Temple is a Buddhist temple in Sendai, Japan. Our most sacred treasure is a painted scroll of Amida Buddha which is kept in the main temple pictured above. This holy painting of Amida Buddaha is called Johgi Nyorai because Johgi is the name of this location, and Nyorai means Buddha. This is a secret Buddha, and the center door is opened only five times each year. Johgi Nyorai is believed to bring good luck to those who pray regularly for their family’s happiness such as happy weddings, easy childbirth, health, or success in business. Many people, attracted by Buddha’s miraculous virtues, continually visit here in order to pray. ( From a guide of Johgi Nyorai Saihoji Temple)
It is traditionally said that this five-storied pagoda was built by Taira no Masakado, a famed military commander , between the years 931 and 937. A classic text says that Fujiwara no Ujiie, a court noble, rebuilt the pagoda in 1372. It is a 29 meter high, 5 storied, plain wood building roofed with shingles. It is designated as a national treasure.
The 16 Buddhas are carved into the cliffs which run for several hundred meters against the rough waves of the Sea of japan. They were sculpted by Ishikawa Kankai, the 21st priest of the Zen Buddhist Kaizen-ji Temple, between the years of 1864 and 1868. We give thanks for his hard work and devotion in skillfully carving this divine monument of 22 statues into the cliff face. Having had the idea to carve the statues, the Priest went to Sakata seeking donations to fund the work. When enough money had been raised, he supervised local masons in carving one statue, and continued in this way until the project was complete. The statues are all busts and are arranged around the figures of Shaka, Monju and Fugen. They were carved to fit in with the shape of the rocks and even complement of the natural beauty of the area. The 16 Buddhas monument reaffirms the faith of all those who come here and is a testimony to the benevolence of the priest who created it.
At the entrance of a japanese temple, there is a gate called the Sanmon gate.This gate is guarded by two “Niouzou” Buddhist guardian spirits.
Their purpose is to prevent enemies from entering the temple.They are always a pair, one on the right side of the gate and one on the left.One’s mouth is open , the other one’s mouth is closed.Usually they have muscular bodies and angry expressions.
However, Niouzou at Yakushido Temple is different.He has an angry face but he is almost cartoonish.His body is not muscular, but sagging like an old man.He is a very atypical Niouzou. (Takashi Nakamura)
On the path leading to Satonomiya-Yudonosan Shrine, you will find a reclining bronze statue of the “negai ushi,” or cow deity. This deity is known as a god of fertility, safe childbirth, and other deeply held ambitions. People visiting the shrine will touch the statue of the cow deity, which is believed to help such desires come true.