Goshiki Fudo (五色不動)

The five types (Meguro, Mejiro, Meaka, Meao and Meki) of Fudo-son (Acalanatha) located at six different sites including Ryusen-ji Temple (Meguro), Konjo-in Temple (in Toshima Ward) (Mejiro), Saisho-ji Temple (Meki), Nankoku-ji Temple (Meaka) and Saisho-ji Temple (in Setagaya Ward) (Meao) as well as another Meki (yellow eye) in Tokyo are collectively referred to as Goshiki Fudo. They are also referred to as Gogen Fudo and are sometimes known simply as Go (five) Fudo.


Goshiki Fudo is also known as Edo Goshiki Fudo and there is a legend that it dated back to the time when, as suggested by Tenkai, Iemitsu TOKUGAWA selected Fudo-son from five locations in Edo and offered a prayer asking for peace and tranquility for the country. The origin of Goshiki Fudo described in many documents such as guide books of historic sites is based on legendary tales such as the foregoing but some inconsistencies exist in terms of the details from one reference to the next.

On the other hand, according to the findings of some historical studies performed on Goshiki Fudo, it was not until the late Meiji Period or early Taisho era when the term "Goshiki Fudo" actually began to emerge, and hence it is difficult to consider that the Iemitsu TOKUGAWA legend concerning Goshiki Fudo being a historical fact which took place in the Edo Period; however, the basic gist of that Iemitsu tale was found in a gossip which has been around since those days.

It is said that, except for the term Goshiki Fudo, the history of those individual temples and the statues of Fudo-son mentioned earlier goes back to the pre-Edo Period. Meguro Fudo, Mejiro Fudo and Meaka Fudo, in particular, can be identified in documents in the Edo Period and were places of interest known as the "Three Fudo."

Of these, Meguro and Mejiro were used for station names of the JR Yamanote Line and Meguro, in particular, is well known for having been adopted as a ward name referred to as Meguro Ward.

Goshiki Fudo, in principle, is found in temples of the Tendai-shu sect and Shingon-shu sect, which share the common teaching of the Esoteric Buddhism, and Myoo, not only Fudo Myoo, is an Esoteric Buddhist image by nature.

Locations of Goshiki Fudo
Meguro Fudo
- Ryusen-ji Temple (Shimomeguro, Meguro Ward, Tokyo)
Mejiro Fudo
- Konjo-in Temple (in Toshima Ward) (Takada, Toshima Ward, Tokyo) is the principle image of Shin Hase-dera Temple of the Shingi Shingon-shu Sect which was located near the present Edogawa Park in Sekiguchi, Bunkyo Ward during the Edo Period.
Meaka Fudo
- Nankoku-ji Temple (Hon Komagome, Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo)
Meao Fudo
- Saisho-ji Temple (in Setagaya Ward) (Taishido, Setagaya Ward, Tokyo) which has an identical name as Saisho-ji Temple of Meki Fudo in Hirai.
Meki Fudo
Eikyu-ji Temple (Minowa, Taito Ward, Tokyo)
Meki Fudo
Saisho-ji Temple (Hirai, Edogawa Ward, Tokyo)

For the individual Fudo-son, please refer to the sections under historical facts on Goshiki Fudo, Goshiki Fudo Meki and the respective temples.

It is said that Goshiki derives from the goshiki as referenced in Gogyo shiso (Five Elements Theory).

It is believed that, in the mid-Kanei era, the third shogun Iemitsu TOKUGAWA accepted a suggestion of the highest-ranking Buddhist priest, Tenkai, and selected Fudo-son in five directions so that they could surround Edo and assigned each Fudo-son to one of Goshiki in order to pray for peace and tranquility for the country. It is sometimes mentioned that four Fudo of Shijin-soo had been selected first and Meki was added during or subsequent to the days of Iemitsu.

Goshiki (five colors) means blue, white, red, black and yellow originated from Onmyo-gogyo-setsu (The Theory of Five Elements) of the Esoteric Buddhism and these five colors represent east, west, south, north and center, respectively.

Because those designated Fudo-son statues have been relocated due to various circumstances such as that some temples became abolished or consolidated subsequent to the Meiji era, it can be said that the current addresses have lost their original role as kekkai (boundary between the sacred and worldly spaces).

In recent years, however, the Goshiki Fudo legend has often been told in conjunction with feng shui and there are various versions with the five directions being sometimes interpreted as Go-kaido Road.

Historical Facts
Meguro and Mejiro existed prior to the Edo Priod. Meguro was particularly respected as it was associated with hawking that Shogun Iemitsu enjoyed. It is said that Mejiro was named in connection with Meguro by Shogun Iemitsu and it is also said that the name Mejiro derived from Mejiro-oshi (jammed).

Additionally, it is said that, in the early Edo Period, there was Akame Fudo named for Akame of Iga in Dozaka (to be described) which subsequently came to be referred to as Akame at Iemitsu's command and was moved to the present location.

As to the three Fudo mentioned above, they appeared in topography of the Edo Period but there was no mention of any connection between them and Tenkai.

Kyogaku-in Temple was originally located in Aoyama being affectionately referred to as 'Enma of Aoyama.'
The statue of Fudo was given to Kyogakuin Temple by a nearby temple which had been abolished. During the 40's of the Meiji era (1906 – 1915), this temple was relocated to Taishido, Setagaya Ward and began to refer itself to as 'Meao Fudo' at that time.

There are two locations for Meki Fudo that have been identified but it is supposed that, since the both of them are located near 'Meireki Fudo' (which was sometimes referred to as Meki Fudo for short later on) which was situated at Asakusa Shozo-in Temple, they may have been also considered as Meki Fudo due to confusion of people's memory.

In any event, only 3 Fudo with names containing 'me' existed in the Edo Period and there were no references in which those 3 Fudo were mentioned in conjunction with one another. It is considered that Meki and Meao appeared after the Meiji Period and the Goshiki Fudo legend was subsequently concocted.

The theory explaining that the area inside the lines connecting all of the points where the respective Goshiki Fudo were located on the map was referred to as 'Shubikiuchi' or 'Naifu of Edo' is contradictory to the fact. Shubikizu (map with a red line showing the boundary between the city of Edo and its surrounding areas) that existed in the end of the Edo Period was developed irrespective of Goshiki Fudo.
(See Masakiyo ABE for details.)

Original Form of the Legend
In view of the above, it has been sometimes said that a succession of the Goshiki Fudo legends including a tale of Tenkai and kekkai were created in recent years; however, it has been also pointed out that such stories were told as gossip (urban legend) irrespective of historical facts during the Edo Period.

According to Natsuyama Zatsudan (1741), Tenkai placed 4 statues of Fudo whose eyes were red, black, blue and white, respectively, in 4 directions. It further mentions the hearsay concerning 'Meki' Fudo at Asakusa Shozo-in Temple described earlier but it seems that the existence of neither Meaka nor Meki could be verified at the time. It also seems that the four Fudo such as Meguro, Mejiro, Meaka and Meao were the main topic of gossip in those days and Meki remained obscure, being yet to be established.

Later, in Yanagidaru (collection of poems) Volume 46 (1808), there was a senryu (satirical haiku) that read, 'Of the eyes of Fudo, there are 2 colors missing to make goshiki (5 colors).'
While only 3 Fudo (aside from Meireki Fudo) were known in those days, it is confirmed that an idea that related the eye colors of Fudo to 'Goshiki' (five colors) mentioned earlier existed.

At any rate, it is said that influence of these urban legends may have been behind the situation where multiple Meki were indiscriminately erected, Meao came into picture and the 3 established Fudo began to refer to themselves as Goshiki Fudo.

Association with Geographical Name

Meguro and Mejiro as geographical names have been in existence in Tokyo for a long time. In Natsuyama Zatsudan, Meaka and Meao are described as if they were geographical names but Meaka and Meao Fudo-son respectively began to be referred to as Meaka Fudo and Meao Fudo after relocating to their current locations that have yet to be named after those Fudo-son.

Although there is an opinion that the geographical name Meguro (in Tokyo) came from Meguro Fudo, Meguro is an old place name, and thus it is highly likely that Meguro Fudo was named after that geographical name.

As for Mejiro, there are two places having the name, Mejirodai in Bunkyo Ward and Mejiro in Toshima Ward. These 2 places are in close proximity to one another and it is said that Mejiro Fudo was named after Mejirodai, or the place (Mejiro) was named after Mejiro Fudo.

As mentioned earlier, Meaka Fudo was named after Akame of Iga Province. The area around Fudo-do Hall where Meaka Fudo was placed was called 'Dozaka,' and this name is still used to this day.

As mentioned earlier, the predecessor of Meao Fudo was Enma of Aoyama (Minato Ward, Tokyo).

Other Prospects
When it comes to Goshiki Fudo, places other than the above 6 locations are often mentioned.

Multiple Meki
Asakusa Shozo-in Temple (also known as Meireki Fudo) mentioned earlier ceased to exist in the middle of the Meiji Period. The name Meki, however, became popular and by the end of the Meiji Period, there were at least 2 known sites for Meki that remain in existence today. It is said that Meki was a common name for some of Fudo-son in the past possibly due to remnants from the days when Goshiki Fudo was an urban legend, but it is now difficult to understand the whole truth of these stories while the popularity of the name Meki seemed apparent.

Temples that are currently referred to as Meki Fudo

Eikyu-ji Temple (Meki of Goshiki Fudo): It is considered that this temple has been Meki Fudo since as early as 1880.

Saisho-ji Temple (Meki of Goshiki Fudo): This temple has been Meki Fudo from the days when it was located in Sumida Ward near Meireki Fudo but was moved to Hirai in 1913. There is a story about Iemitsu that remains in existence today.

Ryugan-ji Temple (Jingumae, Shibuya Ward, Tokyo): This temple is located near the former site of Kyogakuin Temple. Unlike the other Fudo, Ryugan-ji Temple is a Zen temple of the Rinzai sect. Although details are unknown as it is not disclosed, Ryugan-ji Temple was introduced as Meki Fudo in the December 1930 issue of the Sendagaya community bulletin and has often been mentioned as Meki of Goshiki Fudo in recent years; Therefore, the temple will be discussed in this section.

Shingaku-ji Temple (Tamagawa-cho, Akishima City, Tokyo): Shingaku-ji Temple is quite far from the area which was known as Edo and may be considered as another Fudo-son with the same name located outside Tokyo; however, the temple is commonly referred to as Meki Fudo even today. In Shingaku-ji Temple, the statue of Fudo with eyes painted yellow is enshrined.

Temples that used to be referred to as Meki Fudo

Shozo-in Temple (previously described) in Senso-ji Temple: There was a rumor that Meireki Fudo located at Shozo-in turned into Meki Fudo but that temple no longer exists today.

Fudo-in Temple (Roppongi, Minato Ward (Tokyo), Tokyo): It is located near the former site (the former Gongyo-ji Temple) of Meao Fudo. It is believed that Fudo-in Temple was also commonly referred to as Meki Fudo of Rokken-cho at one time.

Fudo-son with the same name and other related items located outside Tokyo
Meaka Fudo was referred to as Akame Fudo in the past; however, in Akame where the name of Akame is derived from, there is Akame Fudo remained in Enju-in Temple (in Akame-cho, Nabari City, Mie Prefecture) even today.

In 1881, Mainichi Shinbun reported on Meao Fudo in Noge Shinden, Yokohama, which followed the 3 Fudo and Meki Fudo in Tokyo, but there has been no record to indicate that the name (Meao) was used after that, and thus it is considered that the reported Meao Fudo is not the same as the existing one.

Although the relation with Goshiki Fudo is unknown, there are some Fudo-son with the same name outside Tokyo, such as the one in Gansho-ji Temple (Fushimi-do, Tondabayashi City, Osaka Prefecture).

The statue of Meaka Fudo-son at Tajiri Fudo-do Hall (Tajiri-ku, Horigane-mura, Azumino City, Nagano Prefecture) is a tangible cultural property designated by Azumino City. The name Meaka came from the red colored eyes of Fudo.