Daihoon-ji Temple (大報恩寺)

Daihoon-ji Temple is a Buddhist temple belonging to the Chizan school of the Shingon Sect located in Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto City. It is commonly known as Senbon-Shaka-do. The temple is known for Okame no monogatari (The Story of Okame) and Daikon-daki (daikon radish cooking festival) which is the signature December event.


Daihoon-ji Temple was founded by Giku in 1227, during the Kamakura period.

Giku was the grandson of FUJIWARA no Hidehira and founded the temple after studying at Mt. Hiei.

The main hall was completed using donations contributed by a by Settsu lumber dealer. A legend is told regarding 'Okame,' the wife of a carpenter who worked on the construction of the main hall (described below).

The Imperial Court permitted the temple to be used by the Kusha, Tendai and Shingon sects.

The original main hall dating from the time of the temple's founding was not burnt during the Onin War and has been designated a National Treasure as the oldest building in central Kyoto.

The remains of 'Kitano Kyoo-do Hall' that once stood in front of the gate of Kitano Tenjin Shrine (Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine), neighboring Daihoon-ji Temple, have also been preserved. Kitano Kyoo-do Hall was constructed by Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA in 1401 in memory of those who died in the Meitoku War (the War of Ujikiyo YAMANA) but was demolished as part of the separation of Buddhism and Shintoism that took place in the early part of the Meiji period.

Okame no Monogatari (The Story of Okame)

During the construction of the main hall, master carpenter Takatsugi cut an irreplaceable pillar to the wrong size. On seeing this, his wife Okame advised him that he could correct the problem using a bracket complex, and the building was completed on time. Okame then committed suicide before the ridgepole-raising ceremony to prevent it from becoming known that it was the suggestion of a woman that allowed this important task to be accomplished. The Hogyoin-to (Okame-zuka) was built to pray for the soul of Takatsugi's wife and it is believed that Okame gohei (wooden stands with paper streamers and an Okame face) were derived from her legend. Okame later became worshipped by carpenters and even today gohei with Otafuku (Okame) masks are used as decoration at ridgepole-raising ceremonies.

These are related to the main hall as it has survived numerous conflicts and is connected to the belief that Okame wards off evil and invites good luck.

Annual Events

Setsubun-e: This February festival is also known as 'Okame Setsubun' in which a bean-throwing ceremony and Okame Ondo (folk music) takes place at Okame-zuka.

Senbon Shaka Nenbutsu: Also known as 'Yuikyogyo-e'. Started during the Bunei era (1264-1275) by the second head priest Nyorin. Also recorded in Kenko YOSHIDA's Tsurezuregusa (Essays in Idleness).

Daikon-daki: A Buddhist Bodhi Day service held on the December 7 and 8. Originated during the Kamakura period when Jizen, a monk at Daihoon-ji Temple, would write Sanskrit characters on the cut end of daikon radishes and pray for good health, and today it is believed that eating these daikon radishes can cure ailments such as paralysis.

National Treasure

Main hall (including a miniature shrine, an old ridge beam and a ridgepole sign)

Important Cultural Properties

Wooden statue of Shakya Nyorai (including canopy): The temple's principal image. Created by Gyokai, the disciple of Kamakura period Buddhist sculptor Kaikei. It is ordinarily kept hidden from view.

Wooden standing statues of the 10 great disciples, 10 statues (including sutras within the statues): The items within the statues and inscriptions have confirmed that they were created by Kaikei in 1218.

Wooden statues of the six Kannon, six statues (including sutras within the statues): Created by Jokei. These six statues depict Sho Kannon, Eleven-faced Kannon, Thousand-armed Kannon, Nyoirin Kannon, Horse-headed Kannon and Juntei Kannon. There were other Buddhist sculptors by the name of 'Jokei' during the Kamakura period, but these statues were created by 'Higo Betto Jokei'. The statues have a striking Chinese Song Dynasty style, and feature realistic facial expressions and picturesque elaborate clothing. It is amazing that these six life-sized Kannon statues have remained together. Located in the Kitano Kyoo-do Hall.

Bronze standing statue of Shakya Nyorai's birth
Wooden statue of the Thousand-armed Kannon
Wooden statues of Futaishi and two children, three statues : Remenant of Kitano Kyoo-do Hall. Created in 1418 by Buddhist sculptor Inryu.

A pair of Da-drum edges
The complete Buddhist scriptures housed within the Kitano Kyoo-do Hall as 5,048 quires (including 232 quires of hand transcribed scriptures): These complete Buddhist scriptures were transcribed (not printed using wood blocks) by the vow of a monk named Gakuzobo Zohan in 1412 and are said to be the last in Japanese history to have been produced by hand.


Okame-zuka and Okame statue
The statue is housed within the main hall and numerous Okame dolls and masks donated by believers are also displayed.

[Original Japanese]