Sanbo-in Temple (三宝院)

Sanbo-in Temple is a sub-temple within the precinct of Daigo-ji Temple located in Daigo, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto City. It belongs to the Daigo school of the Shingon Sect, and is the Honzan (Head Temple) of the Tozan school of the Shugendo religion.


Sanbo-in Temple was founded in 1115 by Shokaku, 14th head priest of Daigo-ji Temple and son of Minister of the Left MINAMOTO no Toshifusa. It was originally named Kanjo-in Temple but was later given its current name after Buddhism's Three Jewels (Sanbo). In 1143, it became the goganji (temple at which prayers for favors are made) of retired Emperor Toba.

From the Kamakura period to the Northern and Southern Courts period, it produced the eminent monks Seigen (7th head priest), Kenjin (11th head priest) and Kenshun (21st head priest), and received the protection of Takauji ASHIKAGA. 25th head priest Mansai, who became the adopted son of Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA, was appointed head priest of Godai-ji Temple in 1396 before being given the imperial title Ju-Sango and later going on to become referred to as 'Kokui no Saisho' (Buddhist priest who also serves as a government minister) for his backing of the Muromachi Shogun Yoshinori ASHIKAGA. The custom later became established that the successive head priests of Godai-ji Temple also served as head priests of Sanbo-in Temple. Also, Godai-ji Temple had been a center of Shingon Sect worship since ancient times, but it was around this time that Sanbo-in Temple took on the role of supervising Shingon Sect ascetics and yamabushi (mountain ascetic hermits).

However, Sanbo-in Temple was destroyed by fire during the Onin War and fell out of use but during the Azuchi–Momoyama period, Gien, the head of Daigo-ji Temple's Kongorin-ji sub temple who was greatly trusted by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, established the 'Daigo no Hanami' (Daigo Flower Viewing) around the Kongorin-ji sub-temple. Gien received the imperial title Ju-Sango and, with the permission of Hideyoshi, became the 32nd head priest of Sanbo-in Temple and renamed Kongorin-ji Temple to Sanbo-in Temple. Gien gained the trust of Ieyasu TOKUGAWA and, in 1613 a Shugendo (mountain ascetism) ban was enacted with the support of the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) as a result of dispute during the early Edo period with the Shogo-in Temple, head temple of the Honzan school of Tendai Sect lineage Shugendo.

In 1871, the use of the Monzeki ranking (ranking of a temple served by a head priest from the imperial family or nobility) was prohibited as a result of the anti-Buddhist movement at the beginning of the Meiji period but was restored 14 years later. Currently, the administrative office of Daigo-ji Temple, Sohonzan (Grand Head Temple) of the Daigo school of the Shingon Sect, is located within Sanbo-in Temple, and it has been determined that the three posts of Daigo school chief priest, Daigo-ji Temple head priest and Sanbo-in Temple Monzeki are held simultaneously. These posts are presently held by Bunno ASO.

[Original Japanese]