KYO: Toji (Kyoo Gokokuji) Temple

Toji (Kyoo Gokokuji) Temple

"Kobo-san Market"

I do not remember well, but my grandmother always said we often visited Kobo-San, the name of the market held on the day of 21st every month. So, I have been thinking to visit there at the time of that market. It was on May 21st, and it was a sunny day. I put relaxing shoes to walk around. Basically, I am not crazy about shopping, but it is a new experience to see assorted odds and ends, such as antique Kimono, ceramics, handcrafted items, and other antique art objects. If you find bonanzas, it would be wonderful!

By the way, for Japanese, the pagoda of this temple is the symbol of Kyoto. I began a quest from this pagoda of 55m, constructed originally in 883. It experienced fires (four times), and the pagoda nowadays is the 5th one, rebuilt in 1644. Then, I walked to Kondo Hall, Kodo Hall, Jikido Hall, Treasure Museum, Kanchi-In House, and Mieido House. The details of each building will be described later on, but my impression after this visit was, I could meet wide varieties of Buddha statues. Each Buddha has its own characteristic, and it is recommendable to learn a little bit about the Buddha before your visit.

Also, here and there, I found some pieces of paper. On those, for example, the explanations of “What is Jikkai(10 worlds; Hell, Hunger, Animalty, Anger, Humanity, Rapture, Learning, Self-Realization, Bodhisattva, and Buddhahood). “ , and other useful & easy instructions to reach the world of Buddhism. Other than those, the words of Kobo Daishi (The Grand Master Who Propagated the Buddhist Teaching) are also circulated. Kobo Daishi is an ancient people, but it is very interesting that the words are still alive, and once we apply those words to the present day, we still learn and are cheered up by those. Let me introduce one of them.

“The destinies of things are due to human resources. Also, the rise and the fall of human-beings are how sincerely the people go through their lives. “

Since the policy of Small Japan is the “sincerity”, so it was a great encounter to see the words. I am sure everyone has its own way of thinking, and there should be such an inspirational quote. I wish clients will find out guidance in their own way when they visit such religious places.

Located near Kyoto Station, Toji is a temple of the Shingon Mikkyo sect of Buddhism. This temple was established in 796 after emperor Kammu relocated the capital of Japan to Kyoto, to guard the eastern area (called Sakyo) of Kyoto. Two temples were set on both sides of Rajomon Gate (the entrance of the ancient Kyoto). In 823, it was granted to Kobo Daishi (Kukai) by emperor Saga, and was named “Kyoo Gokokuji Temple” and became the main training temple of Shingon Buddhism. Even the buildings were destroyed by fires and restored many times, the layout of this temple has been well preserved, expressing the pure land of Mikkyo Buddhism. We can see the layout –Nandaimon Gate, the Kondo Hall, the Kodo Hall, and the Jikido are arranged in a straight line, just as they were at the time that the temple was established. It means, the Kondo expresses “Buddha”, the Kodo is its “Precept”, and the Jikido is “Monk”.

The Kondo Hall is the main building in this temple, in which the priests read the Buddhist scriptures. Here, the principal image is Yakushi Nyorai, who helps people with diseases. The Yakushi Nyorai is guarded by Sunlight & Moonlight bodhisattva. We can imagine that the emperor constructed this, wishing for the nation’s peace and tranquility. It is a typical architecture seen in Momoyama Period, in the 16th to 17th with some essences of Chinese ways.  

The Kodo Hall was not there when this temple was first constructed in 796. In 835, Kobo Daishi originally established, and also experienced fires several times. The building now is the one rebuilt in 1491 and keeps the purely Japanese style. Here, you will be able to see the world of Mikkyo Pure Land. Located Dainichi Nyorai in the middle, Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Cetakas are arranged. Once you enter this building, you may feel like staying here for a while, sitting on the bench against the wall to give your full attention to each statue. The Jikido hall is where monks train themselves and dedicate Buddhist sutra. In the Heian period, it enshrined Senju Kannon, to help the people, and the people came to here for a hope for salvation. The treasury contains many National Treasures and cultural properties.

Five Storied Pagoda
In the building where the Buddhist scriptures are read is a row of 21 standing Mandala images. Since the high priest Kobo Daishi (Kukai), who was the founder of Toji, died on the 21st day of the month, a Buddhist memorial service for the dead (called a "hoyo") is performed here on the 21st of every month. Held on the same day in the temple precinct is the Kobo-ichi (We call it “Kobo-san”.), a marketplace that has a history of almost 500 years.

<High Spots>
When you visit here, I would like to suggest these;
-To visit this temple on the day of 21st to enjoy the outdoor market.