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Kongobuji : Headquarters of Koyasan Shingon Buddhism

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Kongobuji : The Head Temple

Kongobuji 1Kongobuji 2

Located in the center of the Koya-town, this temple is not always known by the name of Kongobuji. Due to the different leaders and administration, the temple has changed names and been rebuilt over the course of time.

Shinzen Daitoku was the first successor of Kobo Daishi and he used to live in a building on this site. In the 12th century, Abbot Kakuban was given permission by Ex-emperor Toba to build the temple Shodempoin on this site on October 17th, 1131. The next significant event happened in 1593, when Toyotomi Hideyoshi ordered a monk named Mokujiki Ogo to build a temple on this same site to comfort the spirit of diseased his mother. After the temple was completed, some of her hair was enshrined inside the temple. The temple was justly named, “Teihatsuji” (which literally means tonsure), and then it was renamed “Seiganji”. The Seiganji temple was destroyed by fire several times, but the main temple that is still standing today was created in 1863. In 1868, the name of the head temple was changed to “Kongobuji”. Many national policies and governmental systems were being reformed throughout the country as a part of the Meiji Restoration and Koyasan was also affected by these changes. At that time there were two temples very close to one another at the same site, “Seiganji” and “Kozanji”. The end result, as ordered from the national government was that the two temples were combined into one and it was renamed as “Kongobuji”, which became the Head Temple for the Shingon Buddhism.

The origin of the name Kongobuji came from Kobo Daishi himself. It is said that he would refer to the whole mountain as Kongobuji as a way of naming the large confines of this Buddhist community. The name Kongobuji also has roots from the title of a sutra called “Kongo Rokaku Issai Yuga Yugi Kyo”.

The magnificent temple grounds of Kongobuji attracts visitors throughout the changing seasons. The area of the entire complex is 160,000 sq. meters and consists of the main temple in addition to a variety of rooms or buildings like the Fire Ritual Hall, Ajikan-meditation Hall, a Belfry, a Storehouse and a Teahouse. Some of the other notable sections of Kongobuji include Okuden, Betsuden, Shin-betsuden, Shoin, Shin-shoin, and The Mausoleum of Shinzen Daitoku.

The main temple, which measures 60 meters from east to west and 70 meters from north to south, is registered as an Important Cultural Property. Inside the different rooms of the main temple there are many wonderfully decorated paintings on the sliding doors. These painting were created by some of the famous artists from the renowned Kano Painting School. The large rock garden in Kongobuji is called Banryu-tei. This garden was created to represent two dragons emerging from a sea of clouds to protect the Okuden area. Banryu-tei has an area that stretches 2,340 square meters and it is the largest rock garden in Japan. Whether it is the changing color of the leaves, or the cherry trees in full bloom, Banryu-tei is always picturesque throughout the year.

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