Konkai Komyo-ji Temple (金戒光明寺)

Konkai Komyo-ji Temple is a Jodo (Pure Land) Sect temple located in Kurodani-cho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City. Its sango (temple's title) is Mt. Shiun. Its honzon (principal object of worship at a temple) is Amida Nyorai (Amitabha Tathagata). The temple is usually called "Kurotani-san." It is one of prestigious daihonzan (head temple of a Buddhist sect) of Jodo Sect along with Chion-in Temple.


In Spring of 1175, Honen descended from Kurodani in Mt. Hiei. After that, taking a walk over the hills, Honen found a large stone and sat down there. Then a purple cloud rose from the stone, covered the sky, and a golden light was cast over the western sky. Seeing all this, Honen built a thatched hut there. This is said to be the beginning of the temple. This place was called 'Zen temple of Shira-kawa River' and was originally a territory of Kurodani, Mt. Hiei; when Eiku entered nirvana, the main temple in Kurodani and the main temple in Shirakawa were given to Honen. As such, Kurodani in Mt. Hiei was called Moto (original) Kurodani, and the land of Okazaki was called Shin (new) Kurodani. Later Honen gave the main temple in Kurodani and the main temple in Shirakawa to Shinku, and Shinku lived in this land. More years later, the land of Okazaki ceased to be called Shin Kurodani and came to be called Kurodani. In Mt. Hiei, Kurodani is still called Seiryu-ji Temple (Sakamoto, Otsu City) today. A hall was structured during the time of the fifth-generation head priest, Eke, and the temple was named Komyo-ji Temple of Mt. Shiun in association with the omen observed by Honen. The eighth-generation head priest, Unku, bestowed commandments to Emperor Gokogon and was granted the two characters of 金 (kon) and 戒 (kai); thus the temple came to be called Konkai Komyo-ji Temple. To commemorate the fact that the land was the first place where Honen propagated Jodo Sect, Emperor Gokomatsu granted the temple an imperial scroll of 'the first gate of Jodo Shinshu' (the True Pure Land Sect of Buddhism). The temple was converted into a castle-like structure during the early Edo period. In 1862, the temple became the headquarters for Kyoto shugoshoku (military governor of Kyoto). After World War II, it attained independence as a subsect of Jodo Sect called 'Kurodani Jodo Sect,' but today it has merged into Jodo Sect and has been playing a part in the Seven Major Daihonzan.
Goeika (a Buddhist hymn): "Ikenomizu Hitonokokoroni Nitarikeri Nigorizumukoto Sadamenakereba" (The water in river resembles a person's mind in that it becomes muddy at times and clear at other times without any patterns)

Headquarters of Kyoto shugoshoku
In the early years of Tokugawa regime, the structure of Komyo-ji Temple was renovated to a castle-style along with Chion-in Temple which also belonged to Jodo Sect. When on September 24, 1862 the Lord of Aizu Domain, Katamori MATSUDAIRA, was appointed to the post of Kyoto shugoshoku, the temple became the headquarters for Aizu Domain of Kyoto shugoshoku; 1,000 samurai warriors were always stationed in Kyoto and replaced every two years. Since the feudal retainers of the Aizu clan could not handle all the work by themselves, Shinsengumi (a group who guarded Kyoto during the end of Tokugawa Shogunate) was stationed under their control as being in custody of shugoshoku, and to attend to maintenance of security. On January 3, 1868, with the Decree for the Restoration of Imperial Rule issued in October of the same year, Satsuma and Choshu Domains established dominion over the inside Kyoto City; as a result, Kyoto shugoshoku was abolished six years after its establishment. In this land of Kurodani, memorial services are held to console the spirits of the feudal retainers of the Aizu clan, who were killed in the Battle of Toba-Fushimi.

The kyokaku (a professional gambler in the Edo period) who was hanging out as chugen (a rank below common soldier) around this time was 'Aizu no Kotetsu' (Senkichi KOSAKA).

Buddhist temple

Miei-do Hall
It is also called Daiden (Great Hall). A portrait (seated statue) of Honen at the age of seventy-five was enshrined here. The hall was destructed by fire in 1934 and was rebuilt in 1944.

San-mon gate (temple gate)
It was destructed by fire during the Onin War. It was rebuilt in 1860. The frame of 'the first gate of Jodo Shishu Sect' by emperor Gokomatsu was hung here.

Amida-do Hall
It was rebuilt by order of Hideyori TOYOTOMI in 1612.

Monju-to Pagoda (a three-story pagoda) (important cultural property)
It was built in 1633. Honzon Monju Bosatsu (Manjusri Bodhisattva associated with wisdom, doctrine and awareness) and wakii-zo (statutes of attendants) were enshrined here (although these statutes are said to be Unkei's works, the actual artist remains unclear).

Ohojo (large guest house of a temple)
It was destructed by fire in 1934 and rebuilt in 1944.

Innai Tatchu (sub-temple): Hasuike-in Temple in Mt. Shiun
The place where Jiro Naozane KUMAGAI, who entered priesthood and became Naozane KUMAGAI, built his hermitage. According to 'Azuma Kagami' (The Mirror of the East), in September of 1206, Rensho set a notice board in a town in Musashimuraoka predicting his death in the near future and rebirth in Gokuraku Jodo (the Amida Pure Land), but the prediction failed; he returned to Kyoto and passed away on October 25, 1208 in this thatched hut of Mt. Higashi (although there are other theories as well). Usually the temple is called Kumagai-do Hall. Since Naozane placed the helmet of his armor there, Hasuike is also called "Kabutonoike" (Lake of Helmet). Later Kasuga no Tsubone planted lotus in the lake, renovated the hall and renamed it Kumagai-do Hall of Hasuike-in Temple.

Pine tree on which Naozane hung his armor. This is the pine tree on which Naozane is said to have hung his armor after washing it. The original pine tree died down; this is the second pine tree succeeding the original tree. In 2003, it was designated by Kyoto City as a tree for preservation.

Cultural property

Important cultural property
Monju-no-to Tower (three-story pagoda)
Wooden standing statue of Thousand-Armed Kannon (usually called "Kibi Kannon")
Picture of Amida coming over the Mountain/Picture of Hell and the Buddhist paradise


Ichimai-kishomon (said to be a genuine work of Honen): It is said that on March 5, 1212, Genchi implored Honen to write teachings of Buddhist invocation as a remembrance (No. 45 of 'The Forty-Eight Scrolls' (biographical picture scrolls of Honen)). It is open to the public only during Buddhist memorial services for Honen that are held on April 23 and 24.

Mirror of Goei (image of a deity)

San-mon Gate (built in 1860)

Jiro Naozane KUMAGAI

Naozane KUMAGAI (March 31, 1141- October 4, 1207) was busho (Japanese military commander) of the Taira family who lived during the end of Heian period until the early Kamakura period. After the Battle of Ishibashiyama, he took the side of the Minamoto clan in the battles that followed. He is known for killing TAIRA no Atsumori in the Battle of Ichinotani. He came to see how empty it was to kill and since then ceased to take part in the Genpei War (war between the Taira and Minamoto clans). After meeting Honen, he gradually considered becoming a priest for the repose of Atsumori's soul. Naozane came to the land of Kurodani, where he washed his armor, hanged it from a branch of a pine tree, and yoked up his horse; then he sought to be a disciple of Honen Shonin (a term given to a virtuous Buddhist priest). He spoke to Honen about his thoughts and entered the priesthood; then he built a hermitage and became Kumagai Naozane Hoshi (a term referring to a Buddhist priest). Komyo-ji Temple, which is Sohonzan (grand head temple) of Seizan Jodo Sect in Ao, Nagaokakyo City, Kyoto Prefecture, began with the establishment of Nenbutsu-zanmai-in Temple in 1198 by Rensho, who worshipped Honen and became his disciple.

Graveyards in the precincts

Cremation mound of Emperor Seiwa
He was buried in Mizuno-oyamano-misasagi (Ukyo Ward, Kyoto City).

Graveyard of the Kumagai family
Located in front of Honen-byo Grave is the Gorin Tower (a memorial gravestone for the dead) of Naozane KUMAGAI (Rensho Hoshi) across that of TAIRA no Atsumori. According to No. 27 of 'The Forty-Eight Scrolls,' Rensho passed away on September 27, 1207 at his birthplace in Kumagaya City (although there are other theories, this is the generally accepted theory). Although his graveyard was in Yukoku-ji Temple (Kumagaya City), his cremains were placed in Nenbutsu Zanmai-do Temple in Mt. Nishi (Komyo-ji Temple (Nagaokakyo City)) according to his will.

Graveyard of Kengyo (the highest title of the official ranks within the Todo-za (the traditional guild for the blind) Yatsuhashi
He was a musician and kengyo who lived during the early Edo period. One theory has it that the sweet called "yatsuhashi" were named after Kengyo Yatsuhashi.

Graveyard of Ansai YAMAZAKI
He was a Confucian, Neo-Confucian Scholar, Shintoist, and thinker who lived during the early Edo period.

Graveyard of Kasuga no Tsubone
"Kasuga no Tsubone" is her title given by the Imperial Court, and she was menoto (a wet nurse) of Iemitsu TOKUGAWA, the third Shogun in the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun).

Gorin Tower of Shikanosuke Yukimori YAMANAKA
He was a vassal of the Amago clan who were daimyo (Japanese territorial lord) in the Sengoku period. His real family name was Genji. His family lineage was a branch of the Sasaki clan (Kyogoku clan) who belonged to the Uda-Genji (Minamoto clan), and was a family of the Amago clan.

Graveyard of martyrs of the Aizu Domain: They are managed in Saiun-in Temple of tacchu (a minor temple). It is a family temple for the graveyard for 352 feudal retainers of the Aizu clan. Every June, the heads of the Aizu-Matsudaira family are invited and a Buddhist memorial service is held.

Graveyard of Yoshimasa TANAKA
Western Graveyard of Ryuko-in Temple (Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City) of tacchu
A Buddhist memorial service commemorating 399 years after the death of Yoshimasa TANAKA, the lord of the Yanagawa Domain consisting of thirty-two thousands koku ("koku" was a system for determining land value for tribute purposes), was held in March of 2008.

Past hoshu (head priests)
The number in parenthesis indicates the chronological order of hoshu.

Honenbo Genku (1)->Seikanbo Genchi (first period of 2)->Horenbo Shinku (latter period of 2)->Shoshinbo Tanku (3)->Gudobo Keito (4)->Sogetsubo Eke (5)->Suganbo Jinku (6)->Jikanbo Hanku (7)->Gaganbo Unku (8)->Sozen Jogen (9)->Butsuryu Eisho Kokushi (Sonin Nadohiro) (10)->Yoshihide Sojin (11)->Seimi Aen (12)->Sokai Rachin(13)->Soshu Ryogyoku (14)->Iteri Ryoshin (15)->Shoyo Shukei (16)->Gokuyo Risei (17)->Eiyo Eishin (18)->Saiyo Unsei (19)->Koyo Denshin (20)->Seiyo Hozan (21)->Dozan Genryu (22)->Kanyo Genryo (23)->Enyo Kyugan (24)->Choyo Genzen (25)->Kinyo Seirin (26)->Ryoteki (27)->Chodon (28)->Ninyo Genju (29)->Ganyo Donya (30)->Seiyo Ganshin (31)->Danyo Juno (32)->Koyo Juncho (33)->Kyoyo Shuson (34)->Tsuyo Chorin (35)->Kunyo Jakusen (36)->Juyo Shaetsu (37)->Toyo Junkyo (38)->Koyo Shuntaku (39)->Kanyo Manryu (40)->Hoyo Chishun (41)->Koyo Nencho (42)->Toyo Choon (43)->Kenyo Reishi (44)->Shinyo Kanrei (45)->Kakuyo Reicho (46)->Yuyo Shunkai (47)->Rinyo (48)->Joyo Gencho (49)->Meiyo Kenkai (50)->Yuyo Tenju (51)->Senyo Kyodo (52)->Kanyo Gakuzen (53)->Juyo Myozen (54)->Zaiyo Yurin (55)->Kurotani Joen [Ryoyo] (56)->Shishiku Kanjo [Ryoyo] (57)->Sato Zeimon [Kaiyo] (58)->Shishiku Kanjo [Ryoyo] (59)->Shuho Jogen [Seiyo] (60)->Kissui Kenyu [Butsuyo] (61)->Oka Binjo [Shinyo] (62)->Ikuho Zuien [Soyo] (63)->Mochizuki Shinko [Ikuyo] (64)->Hoi Kyogan [Doyo] (65)->Kawabata Nobuyuki [Genho] (66)->Watanabe Kyozen [Senyo] (67)->Chiba Ryodo [Myoyo] (68)->Fukui Shudo [Kanyo] (69)->Sawazaki Ryoju [Joyo] (70)->Fujiwara Hiromichi [Hoyo] (71)->Inaoka Kakujun [Toyo] (72)->Tsuboi Shunei [Jinyo] (73)->Takahashi Koji [Manyo] (74)

The character for the thirty-fifth head priest consists of氵and長; the fifty-seventh and fifty-ninth head priests are the same.

[Original Japanese]