Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Monjuin Temple & Emon Saburo


Monjuin is a small temple to the south of Matsuyama City that is the 9th bangai, or bekkaku, temple on the famous Shikoku Pilgrimage known as Ohenro. bangai are the 20 "extra" temples on top of the 88 regular temples of the pilgrimage.

Monjuin is located between temples 47, Yasakiji, and 48, Saitinji, and was built on the site of the former home of a man called Emon Saburo, whose legend is connected with the foundation of the pilgrimage itself and also the practice of osettai, the giving of alms to pilgrims.

According to the story, Emon Saburo was a very wealthy merchant and one day a mendicant monk asked him for alms. He refused and also broke the begging bowl of the monk who was actually Kobo Daishi himself.

After each of his 8 sons fell ill and died, Emon realized it was caused by his actions against Kobo Daishi and so set off around Shikoku to try and catch up with him to ask for forgiveness. A burial mound near temple 46, Joruji, is said to be the grave of his 8 sons.

After completely traveling around Shikoku twenty times and failing to meet up with Kobo Daishi he decided to reverse his direction of travel and go in an anti-clockwise direction.

On the mountainside between temples 11 and 12 in Tokushima, Emon, exhausted and close to death, collapsed. Kobo Daishi appeared and granted him absolution. He asked to be reborn into a wealthy family so that he could restore a neglected temple.

Later a child was born clutching a stone inscribed with the words "Emon Saburo is reborn". Such a stone is on display at temple 51 Ishiteji, in Matsuyama.

The honzon at Monju-in is a "secret" Monju Bosatsu. I was quite impressed with the number of statues and reliefs on display in the grounds of such a small temple.

The previous post in the series was Yasakaji Temple


  1. I like the guy with the bulging yeyes and pinokkio nose :-)

    1. Thats a tengu representing a yamabushi..... Mount Ishizuchi, a major yamabushi centre is not too far away