Japan’s Regional Daishi Faith

Japan's Regional Daishi Faith

Various Daishi Faiths

Nyujo Shinko (state of intense concentration)

In 921, Emperor Daigo conferred the posthumous name “Kobo Daishi” to Kukai. At that time, Toji Temple elite Kanken ascended to Koyasan because of the news. When the Okunoin mausoleum was opened, he was met by Daishi as he was in meditation, and that appearance was said to have been no different from usual. From this legend, the belief has been born that Daishi continues to live in Okunoin in his enlightenment, and that even now, he wishes for peace and happiness of the people. That Nyujo belief became widely spread after Fujiwara Michinaga went mountain climbing in Koyasan in 1027. そのspectacle is also even today, told in a poem stating, “Praise be! In the shade of a crag of the Koya mountain, Daishi still resides”
Furthermore, at Koyasan on the 21st of every month, is a “shrine day” in which people visit the Daishi’s mausoleum, and a mass service for repaying his kindness is a given. Many people go to visit his mausoleum.

Dogyo Ninin (Kobo Daishi is always with me)

Searching for the historic spots of Daishi around Shikoku is the pilgrimage. In the old days, there were no fudasho (temples which offer amulets), and touring the places related to Daishi, nailing kifuda and gold to the temple building, were ways to testify worship. Therefore, in the present as well, there are still remnants of this, such as that traveling to fudasho is still called, “Utsu (to nail).” In recent times, 88 locations of fudasho temples have been designated. Stretching a total distance of 1,450 kilometers, with Hoshin dojo- The Place of Spiritual Awakening in Tokushima prefecture, Shugyo dojo- The Place of Ascetic Training in Kochi prefecture, Bodai dojo- The Place of Enlightenment in Ehime Prefecture, and Nehan dojo- The Place of Nirvana in Kagawa prefecture, a pilgrimage once around Shikoku, has fostered the term “Dogyo Ninin (The Daishi is always with me,” because even if done alone, the pilgrim is refining their mind and body with the Daishi and is always with the Daishi. This truth expressed in the lyric, “Oh joy、When going, when coming home, or when stopping, I am a pair with the Daishi.”

The beginnings of the Shikoku pilgrimage say tell of a man named Emon Saburo, of Ebara Township in Ehime prefecture. Emon Saburo was greatly wealthy, but was known for being extremely and inhumanly greedy. One day, a monk, dirty all over, came there begging for alms. This person was none other than Daishi. Even so, he abusively cursed Daishi, who again and again would come to request alms, and in the end, Emon Saburo took the teppatsu Daisho was holding (priest’s begging bowl) and smashed it to pieces. From then on the ascetic monk suddenly no longer showed himself. However, after a while, the 8 children of Emon Saburo were stricken with misfortune one by one, and passed away. Then, it could be heard, “Could the ascetic monk begging for alms sometime ago have been Kukai, who is travelling around Shikoku in pursuit of knowledge?” At that time, Emon Saburo realized, “I, in my inhuman greed, without giving charity, and furthermore, I smashed Kukai’s teppachi. My children have also met ill fortune and died. This surely must be my divine punishment.” Thus, in order to meet Daishi and apologize, he gave away his property to various people as charity, and came to follow Daishi, and thus, the pilgrimage around Shikoku was begun.

Kudoyama Choishimichi (stone marker path)

Since old times, there were several roads leading to Koyasan. Those roads came together as they approached the mountain, and came into seven roads. Those are called the Koya Nanaguchi (Seven gates). Among these seven roads, the road from Kudoyama Josonin Temple leading to the mountaintop main gate is called, “Choishimichi,” and with Daishi’s founding of Koyasan, he bult a wooden stupa and purposed it as a guidepost on the road. Also, at Jisonin Temple, Daishi’s mother took residence, and in order to meet his mother, he descended the mountain nine times a month, and thus, the area around Josonin Temple came to be called “Kudoyama (nine times mountain).

As the eras passed, then the damage to the wooden stupa became vehement, In the Kamakura period, the 9th Ajari monk of Koyasan Henshokoin, Kakukyou Sojo, appealed for reconstruction and took assistance from influential people such as former Emperor Sage and Hojo Tokimune, and was able to change the rotten wood for stone gorintobata (five-ring stupa) guideposts placed at each “cho” (about 109 meters). There are 180 of the guideposts, beginning at Konpon Daito until Josonin Temple, displaying 180 Taizo mandalas, and furthermore, from Daito Pagoda to Okunoin, there are 36 guidepost stones at intervals of one cho apiece displaying 36 Kongokai mandalas, sybolizing the world of Mandala of the Two Realms. Furthermore, the 36 cho were built in groups of 4, and were said to have been completed after 20 years. Also, the Emperor of each period and any believers climb the mountain while praying at every cho, beginning with an Imperial visit from the former Emperor, thus making this road one of faith.