Thursday, June 4, 2009

Kofu-Gozan & Kai Zenkoji

If it is asked: who is the most famous military commander in the history of Yamanashi? The answer is likely to be : Takeda Shingen 武田信玄 (1521-73). This commander in Sengoku-jidai(戦国時代, Sengoku period) (from the middle 15th to the early 17th century) was originally named "Harunobu 晴信" but changed his name to "Shingen 信玄" when he entered the Buddhist priesthood at age 38. And, irrespective of their religion, he protected temples and shrines.
In Kōfu city where he was based, there are a lot of temples and shrines connected with him, a few of which I'll introduce here.

***** Kōfu-Gozan 甲府五山 *****
There are mountains on the north side of Kōfu. At the base of them are Kōfu-Gozan. Gozan consist of five temples : Chōzenji 長禅寺, Tōkōji 東光寺, Nōjōji 能成寺, Enkōin 円光院 & Hōsenji 法泉寺. The word of "Gozan" comes from "Five Mountains and Ten Monasteries System 五山十刹制度" in China during the Southern Song Dynasty 南宋王朝 (1127–1279). This system was imported to Japan in the late Kamakura-era 鎌倉時代 (1185–1333), and took root as Kamakura Gozan 鎌倉五山 & Kyoto Gozan 京都五山. Shingen made the selections of Kōfu Gozan along the lines of them. Gozan belong to the Rinzai school 臨済宗.

***** Kai Zenkōji 甲斐善光寺 *****
There are some temples of which "Zenkōji 善光寺" is the name all over the country. The six Zenkōjis, whose names are (Shinshū)Zenkōji (信州)善光寺, Moto Zenkōji 元善光寺, Kai Zenkōji 甲斐善光寺, Zenkōji Tōkai Betsuin 善光寺東海別院, Seki Zenkōji 関善光寺 & Gifu Zenkōji 岐阜善光寺, held the unprecedented Buddhist ceremony of "Roku Zenkōji Dōji Gokaichō 六善光寺同時御開帳" on April & May this year. Maybe the next "Gokaichō" will be held 7 years later.
In the "Kondō 金堂" (main temple structure, main hall) which is 27 meters high and was rebuilt in 1796, of Kai Zenkōji, there is a room which makes echo effects and it is called "Nakiryu 鳴き龍" (Crying Dragon). Kai Zenkōji's Naki-Ryu is the largest one in Japan.
Kai Zenkōji 甲斐善光寺 on Flickr

View Kōfu Gozan 甲府五山 & Kai Zenkōji 甲斐善光寺 on Google My Maps

View Six Zenkōjis 六善光寺 on Google My Maps

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