Chomei-ji Temple (長命寺)

Sango (literally, "mountain name," which is the title prefixed to the name of a Buddhist temple): Ikiyasan
Religious school: Independent branch of the Tendai sect
Honzon (principal object of worship at a temple): Senju Kannon (the Merciful Buddha with a thousand arms), Eleven-faced Kannon, Sho Kannon (All of them are important cultural properties.)
Year of foundation: 619 (allegedly)
Kaiki (patron of a temple in its founding): Prince Shotoku (allegedly)
A formal name
Another name
Fudasho (temples where amulets are collected), etc.: the 31st of the 33 temples that are visited during the Kansai Kannon Pilgrimage, the 35th temple of Prince Shotoku's sacred sites, and the 21st temple of the 33 Omi Saigoku Kannon pilgrimage
Cultural properties: Hondo (main hall), wooden Senju Kannon ryuzo (wooden standing statue of Thousand Armed Kannon), and others (important cultural properties)

Chomei-ji Temple is located in Omihachiman City, Shiga Prefecture. The Sango is Ikiyasan.
The 31st temple of 33 Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage
Independent branch of the Tendai sect
It has been said that Kaiki is Prince Shotoku.

It is located on the mountainside of Chomeiji hill by Lake Biwa, and has been known for its more than 800 steps leading from the foot of the hill to Hondo. Ancient pilgrims visited Chomei-ji Temple for prayer by ship.

According to legend, during the twelfth Emperor Keiko era, TAKENOUCHI no Sukune carved '寿命長遠諸元成就' (wishing for long life) in a willow tree wishing for longevity. It has been said that this gave Sukune a long life of 300 years. It is said that when Prince Shotoku visited the place later, he found the letters Sukune had carved during his prayer. Looking at them, he was impressed, and a white-haired old man appeared and told him to make a Buddha statue out of the wood and enshrine it. The Prince immediately made the Eleven-faced Kannon and enshrined it at that very spot. It has been said that the Prince named the temple Chomei-ji Temple after Sukune's longevity. As the name says, it is said that if you visit the temple to pray, you will live a long life.

The actual year and circumferences of the foundation are unknown, and a description of Chomei-ji Temple according to reliable historical materials first appears in monjo (written material) called 'Letters of HAJI no Sukune Sukemasa, Okushima no Shoji (administrator of a manor)' dated March 2, 1074.

Honzon (principal object of worship at a temple)

It is said that Chomei-ji Temple's honzon is 'the trinity of Three Buddhas,' i.e. three Kannons called Senju Kannon, Eleven-faced Kannon, and Sho Kannon. In a zushi (a cupboard-like case with double doors in which an image of (the) Buddha, a sutra, or some other revered object is kept at a temple) in the main temple, Senju Kannon zo (statue of Thousand Armed Avalokiteshwara) is located in the center, Juichimen Kannon-zo (the statue of Eleven-faced Kannon) on the observer's right, and Sho Kannon zo (statue of Sho Kannon) on the observer's left (all of them are important cultural properties and Buddhist images normally withheld from public view). Senju Kannon zo (statue height: 91.8 cm) is made with the split-and-join method using wooden blocks from one tree with saikin (cut gold leaf) finishing applied to its groundwork, and it is estimated that it was created during the end of Heian Period, in the 12th century. It is estimated that Juichimen Kannon-zo (statue height: 53.8 cm) was created earlier than Senju Kannon zo during the 10th or 11th century, and there is a possibility that this was the original honzon. It is estimated that Sho Kannon zo (statue height: 67.4 cm) is a work from the Kamakura period. A zushi in which these statues are enshrined is divided into the front room and the rear room, and Jizo Bosatsu ryuzo (standing statue of the Guardian Deity of Travelers and Children) and Yakushi Nyorai ryuzo (standing statue of Bhaisajyaguru) are enshrined in the rear room.

In the record of pilgrimage of Gyoson (about the end of 11th century) in "The Record of High Priest at A Temple" which has been regarded as the oldest reliable historical material regarding Saigoku Sanju-san-ka-sho pilgrimage, the honzon of Chomei-ji Temple is 'short Senju', and in the record of pilgrimage of Kakuchu (in 1161) also in "The Record of High Priest at A Temple," the honzon is regarded as 'short Sho Kannon,' so it is obvious from the records that the honzon was replaced in the past.

These Kannon-zo are strictly regarded as Buddhist images normally withheld from public view. In celebration of the 1,000th anniversary of Cloistered Emperor Kazan who is regarded as a person who restored Saigoku Sanju-san-ka-sho (Kansai Kannon Pilgrimage), 'Kechien kaicho' (unveiling a Buddhist image to make a connection with Buddha) was decided to be held from 2008 to 2010 and that the honzon of Chomei-ji Temple would be opened to the public from October 1 through October 31, 2009. 61 years have passed since it was last exhibited in 1948.

Cultural property

Important cultural properties
Hondo (main hall) - in 1524
Three-storey pagoda - in 1597
Shoro (bell tower) - in 1608
Goma-do Hall - in 1606
Guhari Amida (a statue of Guhari Amida Buddha) with color painting on silk
Seishi Bosatsu zo with color painting on silk
Shaka Sanzon zo (the statues of Shakyamuni triads) with color painting on silk
Nehanzo (an image of the Buddha immediately after his death) with color painting on silk
Wooden standing statue of Senju Kannon - Heian period
Wooden standing statue of Jizo Bosatsu - work of Eikai in 1254 (a deposite in Nara National Museum)
Wooden standing statue of Bishamon-ten - Heian period
Wooden standing statue of Sho Kannon - Kamakura period
Wooden standing statue of Eleven-faced Kannon ryuzo - Heian period
Kondo Sukashibori Keman (gilt bronze Buddhist floral decorations with open sculpture work) -The year 1243 is incribed in the 5 faces gilt bronze keman with open sculpture work

Tangible cultural properties designated by Shiga Prefecture
Monjo related to Chomei-ji Temple, 'Rakugaki Ayamari Shomon' (passages apologizing for drawing graffiti), and other 5,474 items - designated on July 23, 2008


157, Chomeiji-cho Town, Omihachiman City, Shiga Prefecture, 523-0808
20-minute Omi Railway Bus ride from JR Omihachiman Station for Chomei-ji Temple, and 15-minute walk

Last and next fudasho
Saigoku Sanjusankasho
30th: Hogon-ji Temple -- 31st: Chomei-ji Temple -- 32nd: Kannonsho-ji Temple

[Original Japanese]