Bishamon-do Temple (毘沙門堂)

Bishamon-do Temple is Buddhist temple belonging to the Tendai Sect located in Yamashina-ku Ward, Kyoto City. The sango (literally, "mountain name"), which is the title prefixed to the name of a Buddhist temple is Gohozan (Mt. Goho). It is also known as Ankokuin Izumo-ji Temple on Mt. Goho. The principal image is Bishamonten (Vaisravana).
As one of the Five Monzeki Temples (served by head priests from the imperial family) of Tendai Sect in Kyoto, it is also called 'Bishamon-do Monzeki.'

According to temple legend, Izumo-ji Temple, the predecessor of Bishamon-do Temple, was founded by Gyoki in 703 under the order of the Emperor Monmu. Izumo-ji Temple later fell into decline at the end of the Heian period but was revived at the beginning of the Kamakura period by TAIRA no Chikanori who merged it with three temples connected to the Taira family. The temple again fell into ruin at the end of the middle ages but was relocated to its current site and revived by Tenkai and his disciple Kokai (a monk) where is prospered as one of the Five Monzeki Temples of Tendai Sect in Kyoto.

It is assumed that its predecessor, Izumo-ji Temple, was located in the vicinity of Kamigoryo-jinja Shrine to the north of Shokoku-ji Temple in Kamigyo-ku Ward, Kyoto City. Ancient roof tiles dating from the early Nara period have been excavated in the area and, although it has not been confirmed to have been founded by Gyoki, it is known that the temple had been situated in this area since before the relocation of Heijo-kyo (the ancient capital of Japan in current Nara). In addition, the place name 'Izumoji' still remains in use in the area. It is known from sources such as "Konjaku Monogatari Shu" (The Tale of Times Now Past) that Izumo-ji Temple fell into decline at the end of the Heian period.

According to the 1195 last will and testament of TAIRA no Chikanori ("Toin buruiki" (categorized collection of court events and practices by the Toin family), in the same year he merged three Taira family related temples Byodo-ji Temple, Sonju-ji Temple and Goho-ji Temple, and constructed three Goken-do halls in Izumoji (a 'Goken-do hall' is a Buddha statue hall with a five bay long facade). This will and testament states that Byodo-ji Temple was founded by Imperial Prince Kazurawara (786 - 853), the son of the Emperor Kanmu and the ancestor or Kanmu Heishi (Taira clan), and situated in Uzumasa (in present-day Ukyo-ku Ward, Kyoto City). Sonju-ji Temple was founded by TAIRA no Chikanobu (945 - 1017) and situated in Itsutsuji (Kamigyo-ku Ward, Kyoto City). Goho-ji Temple was founded by TAIRA no Chikanori's father TAIRA no Noriie in Fushimi (Fushimi-ku Ward, Kyoto City) and relocated to Kitaiwakura (Iwakura, Sakyo-ku Ward, Kyoto City) in 1161 but destroyed by fire in 1163 with only the principal image being moved to Ohara (Ohara, Sakyo-ku Ward, Kyoto City). The temple resulting from the merger inherited the temple registration of Izumo-ji Temple to became named Izumo-ji Temple on Mt. Goho and a Bishamonten statue said to have been carved by Saicho (also known as Denkyo Daishi) himself was installed as principal image. In the middle ages, Izumo-ji Temple was famous for its cherry blossoms and is mentioned in FUJIWARA no Sadaie's diary "Meigetsu-ki" and "Shasekishu" (collection of Buddhist stories) (compiled by Muju Dogyo).

This Kamakura period revival eventually turned to decline but restoration was begun by Tenkai, a Tendai Sect monk with a close relationship to Ieyasu TOKUGAWA, in the early 17th century. The Edo Shogunate granted part of the estate of Ansho-ji Temple (Kyoto City) (a Shingon Sect temple founded in the 9th century) in Yamashina to Izumo-ji Temple and the its reconstruction was completed in 1665 after the death of Tenkai by his disciple Kokai. The Emperor Gosai's son Cloistered Imperial Prince Koben (1669 - 1716) received the Buddhist commandments at the temple and lived there in seclusion during his final years.
Following this, the temple became a Monzeki Temple (a high ranking temple served by a head priest from the imperial or a noble family) and came to be named 'Bishamon-do Monzeki.'

Cultural Properties
Important Cultural Properties
Diary of Kinsada TOIN
14th volume of Chu Daihatsu Nehan-gyo (Commentary of the Nirvana Sutra)
Tenrei style (ancient square style)

In addition to those above, the National Treasure-designated Seiji Hoo Mimi hana-ike (a celadon flower base with handle of hoo (a mythological sacred bird in Chinese lore, a phoenix)) in the possession of the Kuboso Memorial Museum of Arts in Izumi City, Osaka Prefecture was originally kept at Bishamon-do Temple.

Travel to the JR West/Kyoto Municipal Subway Tozai Line Yamashina Station or Keihan Electric Railways Keihan Yamashina Station and walk north for approximately 15-20 minutes.

18 Anshu Inariyama-cho, Yamashina-ku Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture

[Original Japanese]