Due South : Zentsuu-ji, Kagawa – General Info and Kuukai
Zentsuu-ji : General Info
Zentsuu-ji is a name of the temple which was built by the well-known monk Kuukai a.k.a. “Koubou-daishi” (The Grand Master Koubou)
(The French fashion label “Kookai” is named after the priest.)
Then, the location where the temple is also began to be called as “Zentsuu-ji”.
*About the title “Daishi”
It seems that the title was originally from China.
I don’t know its Chinese pronunciation.
In Japan, it was (is?) a posthumous title given by the Imperial Court generally to the chosen high priests.
Kuukai is one of 24 high priests who has got the title, but now, he is often referred as just “daishi (san)”, so it may sound like the unique title just for him.
How to get there
The Zentsuu-ji (officially spelled out as “Zentsuji”) station is next to Kotohira.
From Kotohira, it only takes about six minutes by a local train.
From the Okayama station, take a train to the Zentsuu-ji station.
20-minute-walk from the station.
Although there is a free city bus running from the station, it only runs twice a day to the temple.
See here for the bus timetable (Japanese website).
[About the train to Zentsuu-ji]
If you take a limited express train (need extra fee for the express ticket), it goes direct and takes about an hour.
If you take an ordinary train (no extra fee unless you want to have a reserved seat), you may have to transfer at least once and takes about an hour and a half.
Every train from Okayama going to stations in the Shikoku island crosses the Seto Oohashi (the bridge across the Seto Inland Sea).
So, when it’s windy, it often gets delayed or stops.
Born in 774 in the province of Sanuki, the present Kagawa prefecture, as a member of the Saeki family.
His father was one of the local officials who were in charge of governing the region.
At the age of fifteen, he moved up to Kyoto to become a government official like his father.
He had learnt from his uncle, and when he was eighteen he entered an elite bureaucrat training school.
However, he soon left the school and started Buddhism training in mountains.
When he was 31, he went to China to study at his own expense.
After two years, he brought back a huge amount of Buddist items like scriptures, pictures and ritual implements.
The list of items were handed to the Imperial Court.
This catapulted him into the limelight.
He even gained a trust from the Emperor.
Based on the knowledge he had learnt in China, he established a new Buddhist school called “Shingon-shuu” (lit. “True words religion”), which is now one of the major Buddhism sects.
In 816, he asked a permission to the Imperial Court for establishing a temple in Kouya-san (Mt. Kouya) in the present Wakayama prefecture.
Emperor Saga accepted his request and gave him the mountain.
The name of the temple is Kongoubu-ji, but probably much more famous as “Kouya-san”.
(The temple was closed to women until 1872.)
At the age of fifty, he was asked by the Emperor to take over Tou-ji (lit. East Temple) in Kyoto, one of the temples that the government established and managed.
Since his first literal work in 797, he wrote many books about Buddhism till he died in 835.
Kuukai is also very famous for his hand-writing.
There is a proverb in Japanese, “Koubou mo fude no ayamari” (“Even Koubou could brush error”), which means “Anybody makes a mistake” (“Nobody is perfect”).
Other similar proverbs are:
“Saru mo ki kara ochiru” (“Even a monkey could fall from a tree”).
“Kappa no kawanagare” (“Even kappa
* could drown in the river”).
*Kappa is a Japanese monster who lives in the water.
[My personal impression of Kuukai]
Honestly speaking, I felt that Kuukai was far from generous or modest, with too much self-esteem, after my research for this post.
His first book was to praise Buddhism to compare with other two major religions in Japan, Confucianism and Taoism.
The book was to explain that he chose Buddhism of the three because it was the best.
In his later work, he seemed to have concluded that his Shingon-shuu was the best of all the Buddhist schools.
Also, when he took over Tou-ji, he appealed to the Imperial Court not to allow monks to live there except ones from his Shingon-shuu, in spite of the fact that there were monks usually from various sects back then in this sort of government-owned temples so that they could learn different doctrines together.
His outrageous and arrogant request was accepted.
I’ve never read his works, so I cannot tell my impression is right, but I can’t help doubting if he just wanted to praise himself, insisting “I am the best!” in his works.
Next post : The temple and around
Latest posts by kara (see all)
- Basic Japanese : “Sumimasen” – “Thank you” in Japanese - June 24, 2015
- Basic Japanese : “Arigatou” – “Thank you” in Japanese - May 29, 2015
- Basic Japanese : “Go-chisou sama” – Phrase after meal - May 27, 2015
Bizen country, its main area was southern part of the present Okayama prefecture, was very famous for swordsmithing. It’s also famous for pottery called “Bizen-yaki”, but in this post, I’m going to focus on swordsmithing only. Swordsmiths in Bizen There were a great number of swordsmiths in Bizen. According to several websites, it seems […]
Almost everything in Japan is ranked. From top gardens to top temples. Even celebrities and manga/anime characters are ranked too. They can be based on popularity or something more particular. Nihon Sankei(日本三景) or Japan’s Three Most Scenic Views is one of those list when it comes to tourist spots and sightseeing. Japan’s Three Most Scenic […]
Shinkansen (bullet train) is usually color white in Japan. But you can see a yellow one on rare occasions. It is called “Doctor Yellow”. Doctor Yellow is a special vehicle whose role is to check any problems on the equipments of shinkasen. Because it’s so rare, Doctor Yellow is very popular and there is […]
Bizen Osafune Japanese sword museum (1) About 30 minute walk from the Kagato station. It’s an institution with a sword museum, a shop, a forge and a sword craft centre. It cost me 500 yen (in November 2014) to enter the museum, but others were free. There were no swordsmiths nor craftsmen except one when […]
This was my second time in Himeji. The first was 4 years earlier in spring to see Himeji Castle. This time around, we went to Taiyo Park. Not many know about this place since its in a remote area with no bus/train stops nearby. We went there by car so no biggie. The Park Entrance […]
Other places to see in Takahashi (1) [Raikyuu-ji (Raikyuu temple)] Raikyuu-ji is a Zen temple which was reconstructed in 1339 under an order of Takauji Ashikaga, who was the founder and first shougun of the Muromachi era. The date of its original establishment is not known. Takauji and his brother ordered to build temples and […]
One weekend in June, my friend and I went to Nagasaki City for a weekend trip. Nagasaki City is the capital of Nagasaki Prefecture on the island of Kyushu. When we arrived at the Nagasaki station, we immediately went to their tourist help desk. Good thing there was an English speaking attendant who helped us […]
What to see in the village centre There are several shops, cafes and even museums in the quite short high street. [The former Katayama residence] The house for the head family of Katayama, built in the late Edo era. The Katayama family was a very powerful merchant who made a fortune by producing “Bengara”. The […]
First of all, Kagawa is a name of a prefecture in Japan and has nothing to do with a Japanese footballer Kagawa. Konpira in Kagawa Konpira-guu or Kotohira-guu is one of the well-known shrines in Japan. Often people affectionately call it as “Konpira-san”. The word “Konpira” came from the Sanskrit, “Kumbhira”. I couldn’t find any […]
On my first visit to Tokyo we visited Tsukishima district famous for monjyayaki – it is so famous that there is a street filled with stores that serve this famous kanto specialty. So what exactly is monjyayaki or monjya as it is popularly known. Monjyayaki or simple monjya is a type of Japanese pancake made […]