Kokawadera Engiemaki (a picture scroll of the legends of Kokawadera Temple) (粉河寺縁起絵巻)

Kokawadera Engiemaki (a picture scroll of the legends of Kokawadera Temple), one of representative picture scrolls in Japan, is designated as a national treasure. Kokawadera Engiemaki is owned by Kokawa-dera Temple, Wakayama Prefecture. It is on display at the Kyoto National Museum.

Shihon-Chakushoku (paper-based colored picture), one roll, 30.8cm long, 1984.2 cm wide. It is assumed to have been completed around the twelfth century, during the latter half of the Heian period. During the Tensho era (1573-1592), it caught fire from the war; it was badly damaged at the beginning of and at the top and bottom of parts of the scroll.


The story is set during the very end of the Nara period, Hoki period (770-780,) and the central character of the story is OTOMO no Kujiko, a mountain man, who lived in Naga District, Ki Province (Wakayama prefecture). One time, Kujiko found an auspicious place in the mountains, and wanted to build a Shoja (a hall where priests practice asceticism, like a temple) to install a Buddhist stature in.

Then, a wandering pilgrim appeared, and he offered to build a Buddhist statue referring to himself as busshi (sculptor of Buddhist Statues). The pilgrim entered into the hermitage in mountains, locked the door, and then the pilgrim told him to come back to see him after seven days. When Kujiko opened the door on the eighth day, Senju Kannon ryuzo (standing statue of Thousand Armed Avalokiteshwara) was installed in the hermitage, and he found that the pilgrim was gone.

After that, two daughters of a wealthy man named Satayu who lived in Mabase City, Shibukawa District, Kawachi Province came down with a serious illness. Doctors gave up on them saying that they couldn't be cured. Then, a pilgrim appeared, and performed incantation and a prayer making Darani of Senju Kannon. That two daughters got over their illness immediately. Satayu was overjoyed, and offered the pilgrim an obisaya (obi scabbard) woodman's hatchet as a gift. Satayu asked the pilgrim where he lived, and the pilgrim replied that he lived in Kokawa-dera Temple in Kazeichi Village, Naga District, Ki Province.

Satayu led the entire family to Kazeichi Village, and they saw a golden Senju Kannon ryuzo standing with the hatchet that Sadayu offered, in its hands posing as Semui-in (mudra for bestowing fearlessness) in a thatched hut.

[Original Japanese]