Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple (石山本願寺)

Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple, was established at Ishiyama in Settsu Province (Chuo Ward, Osaka City) in 1496, during the time of Rennyo, and later became the head temple of Jodo Shinshu (the True Pure Land Sect of Buddhism). It is said that the temple was originally called Osaka-gobo Temple or Osaka Hongan-ji Temple.


Ishiyama was a low hill located at the northern end of the Uemachi Plateau, rising above the point where the Yodo-gawa River and the former Yamato-gawa river met, and close to where the port of Watanabe-no-tsu, which was the hub of water traffic along the Yodo-gawa Water System and on the Seto Inland Sea, and the departure point for land traffic to Sumiyoshi, Sakai, and Kishu, was established. Following the enlargement of Rennyo's retirement retreat, Ishiyama grew to a jinai-cho (town within temple precincts), where merchants and artisans lived and governed themselves. The jinai-cho was called 'Kosaka', which literally means 'small slope', because it was located on a slope up to the plateau, and later came to be called 'Osaka', meaning 'big slope' (it is said that the name "Osaka" started to be used in 1498).

Many followers revered the site because of Rennyo's retreat, and its power began to overwhelm the head temple, Yamashina Hongan-ji Temple.
Jitsunyo, Rennyo's successor, felt uneasy about the situation and started to break up the followers of Ishiyama (the conflict is known as the 'Osakaichiran war' or, occasionally, as the 'Kyoroku-Tembun war' because many of the followers of Ishiyama were from Kawachi Province)

However, after Yamashina Hongan-ji Temple was lost during the Tenbun era (1532-1555), Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple became firmly established as the head temple. In the late Sengoku (Warring States) period, Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple was fortified with stone walls which were as strong as castle walls. The temple was besieged during the Ishiyama War by Nobunaga ODA and after a decade-long battle, the chief priest of the sect, Kennyo, under attack from Nobunaga, made a peace settlement with him in 1580. Kyonyo, Kennyo's eldest son, did not agree with the peace settlement and, with a few others, including Rairyu SHIMOTSUMA, continued to hold out in the temple, though eventually he was ordered to leave and moved to Kii Saginomori. Immediately after that, Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple was burnt down.

Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI built Osaka-jo Castle over the ruins of Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple.

It is also said that there was a tumulus or the grounds of Ikukunitama-jinja Shrine at the site, before Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple was built. Some people say that because Ikukunitama-jinja Shrine dates back to ancient times, Ishiyama was an ancient 'iwakura' (dwelling place of a god).

[Original Japanese]