Hyakusai-ji Temple (百済寺)

Sango (literally, "mountain name," which is the title prefixed to the name of a Buddhist temple): Shakasan
Religious school: The Tendai sect
Honzon (principal object of worship at a temple): Eleven-faced Kannon (Goddess of Mercy)
Founded in: 606
Kaiki (patron of a temple in its founding): Prince Shotoku.
Formal name
Another name
Fudasho (temples where amulets are collected): The three mountains in Eastern Biwa Lake
Cultural assets: Hondo (main temple), Color on silk painting of Hie Sanno mandala (Mandala having to do with Hie Sannosha Shrine), three other cultural assets - Important Cultural Property, the precinct of Hyakusai-ji Temple - historic site

Hyakusai-ji Temple is a temple of the Tendai sect, located in Higashiomi City, Shiga Prefecture. Its Sango is Shakasan. The Honzon is an Eleven-faced Kannon and the Kaiki is Prince Shotoku. It is known as one of the three mountains in Eastern Biwa Lake together with Kongorin-ji Temple and Saimei-ji Temple (Kora-cho).

Beginning and history

It is located on the east side of Lake Biwa, the west mountain side of the Suzuka mountain range. According to the temple history, it was built by Prince Shotoku in 606. Prince Shotoku saw strange light when he visited this location with Eji, a monk of Goryeo (Goguryeo) (kingdom of Korea), who was visiting Japan at that time. He went to see the source of the light and found out it was a sacred Japanese cedar tree. The prince carved a statue of an Eleven-faced Kannon on the Japanese cedar without cutting it down and built a temple surrounding the statue. It is said to be the beginning of Hyakusai-ji Temple, and the temple was named Hyakusai-ji Temple (百済寺) because it was modeled after the Ryoun-ji Temple in Kudara (Baekje, Paekche) (百済). According to historical materials, Hyakusai-ji Temple first appears in the 11th century, 1089, therefore, it is unknown how much the legend of Prince Shotoku founding the temple reflects the historical facts, however, by seeing its jigo (literally, "temple name") - Hyakusai-ji Temple, this temple was most likely to be built as a Uji-dera Temple (temple built for praying clan's glory) for a clan formed by immigrants to ancient Japan. In the Heian period, as many other temples in the Omi Province, Hyakusai-ji Temple also fell within Enryaku-ji Temple on Mt. Hiei and became a temple of the Tendai sect.

Although it seems like the temple had been quite substantial from the Heian period to the medieval period, it was completely-burned by the fire in 1498 and also by the fire caused by the war in 1503; the temple's treasure and the records were burned down, which included not only the original building from its inception but also most of the Buddha statues, the temple's treasure and the records. In 1573, the temple was burned down again by Nobunaga ODA. At that time, the Rokkaku clan who was kin to the Sasaki clan, and influential in the area, had Namazue-jo Castle, a branch castle of Kannonji-jo Castle, near Hyakusai-ji Temple. Nobunaga burned down Hyakusai-ji Temple because he thought that the temple was on the side of the Sasaki clan who opposed Nobunaga. Its Hondo and other buildings remaining today were built after modern times.

Precincts of the temple

Passing through its Sanmon gate (temple gate) and going down the Sando (an approach to the temple), you will see Kimi-in Temple, Honbo (a main living quarter priest), and going up the stone steps farther, you will see Nio-mon Gate (Deva gate) and further up is Hondo. Here you can see the remains of the Sobo (Monks' lodging house), surrounded by stone walls, on both sides of the Sando where there used to be many buildings standing in a row. It is considered to be a national historic site.

Its Hondo is built according to the Irimoya style (building with a half-hipped roof) and Hiwadabuki (cypress bark roof). It was rebuilt in the early Edo period, in 1650. The building has the form of the Esoteric Buddhism hall from medieval times and the characteristics of modern times in its details; it was set down as an Important Cultural Property in 2004. The original Hondo used to be located in the back of its present location and the size was larger. Also, there used to be a five-storied pagoda standing on the right side (south) of the original Hondo.

Cultural Property

Important Cultural Property

Hondo of Hyakusai-ji Temple

Color on silk painting of Hie Sanno mandala

Konjikondeihokekyo (with black lacquer decorated box)

Kondo-karakusamon-kei (Buddhist ritual gong with arabesque design)

Basshi, Dora (a gong)

Historic site

The precinct of Hyakusai-ji Temple

[Original Japanese]