History of Kanzouin
The official name of the temple is "Jiunzan Mandala-Temple Kanzouin". It belongs to the Chisan wing of the Shingon sect, the main statue is the Daisho Fudo-Myoo. The exact date of the foundation of Kanzoin is not clear, however the fact that it existed along with another temple called Sanboji and that Kanzouin was closely connected to the Shintoist shrine Inari-jinja can be seen from various ancient writings.
In the year 9 of Bunmei era (1477) Dokan Ota made Castle Toshima his main residence and defeated the ruling family of this area, the Toshima. He relocated the temple Sanboji to the ruins of the Toshima family's second castle Shakuji. It is said, that at this time Kanzouin was one of the halls of Sanboji and in the fourth month of the year Bunmei 9 became a seperate temple in Minami-Tanaka.
Although uncertain about the date, the fact that the Yakushido (hall of the Yakushi Buddha), which was built next to the Main Hall, was once a seperate place of worship is for sure. The statue of the Yakushinyorai enshrined is called "Hinode-yakushi" (i.e. Yakushi of the Rising Sun) and still recieves a lot of attention from the people living near by.
The Main Hall was rebuilt in remembrance of the1150anniversary of the death of Kobo Daishi (the founder of the Shingon sect in Japan) and was completed 02.04.1985. The Yakushido, along with the reception rooms, was rebuilt in remembrance of the 850 anniversary of the death of Kogyo Daishi. They were completed 25.10.1992. On this date, the old main statue of Hinode Yakushi became a "hidden Buddha" (i.e. a statue, which is shown only on special occasions). As substitution, the statue of Yakushi Ruriko-nyorai by Jubun Iwamatsu is now placed in front of the hidden Buddha.
The Shingon sect is also called the Mandala-sect, because the mandala portrays the most importantnt teachings in a direct and graphical way. Furthermore, for the priests of the Shingon sect, the mandala are indispensable at the most important ceremony, Kanjo-ceremony. Thus Kobo Daishi has faced the danger of a voyage to China in 8th century and has brought the Ryobu-Mandala, consisting of the "Kongokai-Mandala" and the "Taizo-Mandala" to Japan.
A whole view of Kanzouin in about 1945
(drawn by Seikai Komiya)
Since ancient times only a few temples could have afforded to possess such treasures as a single or even the Ryobu-Mandala. In fact it was the enormous luck that Kanzouin got the chance to encounter Master Somekawa and get eagerness of believers. Master Somekaw's Kanzoin-Mandala are not copies but completely original. Kanzouin-Mandala are based on the scriptures of esoteric Buddhism. It took about 18 years to complete Kanzouin-Mandala.
The previous Main Hall
Animals in "Taizo-Mandala"
(the part of "Kongokai-Mandala")