Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Renjoji one of the oldest temples in Japan?


Renjoji is temple 27 on the Shingon Kyushu 108 temple Pilgrimage and is located just outside the town of Mie in Bungo Ono, Oita.

The guidebook to the pilgrimage, and the information signboard at the temple had two different versions of the temples origins. The book says it was founded by a Chinese monk in 546, whereas the signboard says it was founded by a local man who than brought over a monk from Paekche on the Korean Peninsula.

The official version of the introduction of Buddhism into Japan has the king of Paekche sending a statue to the Yamato court in the mid 6th Century, but that ignores the fact that northern Kyushu and the Japan Sea coast, much closer to the peninsula, had extensive contacts and interactions with Korea, and it seems highly unlikely that Buddhism did not appear in these areas before then. Here in Shimane we have two temples that claim an origin that predates the Paekche gift to Yamato.

The main deity here is a small statue of Kannon, but the temple has a strong connection with Yakushi Nyorai, the "Medicine Buddha" and there is a hall containing almost 1,000 Yakushi statues which I will post about next.


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