Sunday, March 24, 2024

Saikyoji Temple 77 Kyushu pilgrimage


Saikyoji Temple is located on a hillside overlooking the harbour of the main settlement on Hirado Island.

It is built on the site of where Kobo Daishi performed his first Goma ceremony after returning from China in 806.

It is a Shingon temple and because of its size is sometimes referred to as the Koyasan of the West, although it must be said I have come across numerous other temples with the same nickname.

It was established in 1607 by the local daimyo Shigenobu Matsuura, who was a fervent believer in Shingon. However, at that time a zen temple existed on the property.

The zen priest refused to leave and so Matsuura burned down the temple with the priest inside. For years Matsuura was haunted by ghosts of the murdered riests until one day they were scared away by the sound of a baby crying. This is said to be the origin of the "Crying Baby Sumo" event held every February at Setsubun. Most Naki Sumo events are held in shrines in May.

The honzon is a statue of Kokuzo Bodhisattva, not one of the more famous bodhisattvas, but important to Kobo Daishi. Kokuzo was the focus of the ascetic practices that Kobo Daishi undertook as a youth.

Within the grounds are an Ebisu Shrine and an Inari Shrine.

Between the main temple and the Okunoin, the path is lined with 88 statues representing the Shikoku pilgrimage.

The temple was well supported by the Matsuura clan and the temples Treasure House museum has many delightful paintings and statues, unfortunately some of which were looted from Korea during Hideyoshis invasions.

The temple is number 77 on the Kyushu pilgrimage and also on the Kyushu Kannon pilgrimage.

Number 78 on the Kyushu pilgrimage is a few kilometers away and is the site where Kobo Daishi set sail on his journey to China. It is an unmanned site so pilgrimage stamps need to be gotten here.

Hirado is an interesting place with a lot of historical connections. William Adams, the English sailor immortalized in the novel Shogun, is currently attracting a lot of interest because of the new remake of the TV drama.

He lived and died in Hirado.

The previous post was on the pagoda at the okunoin of the temple.

Hirado is well worth a visit if you are in the area, and Saikyoji is well worth a visit if you are in Hirado.

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