Yoshizaki Gobo (吉崎御坊)
Yoshizaki Gobo was a priest housing which stood in Yoshizaki of Echizen Province (present Yoshizaki, Awara City, Fukui Prefecture). At present, there is a stone monument with a description of 'Historic Spot: Site of Yoshizaki Gobo' at the site where the priest housing stood.
A branch temple which belongs to Jodo Shinshu sect (the True Pure Land Sect of Buddhism) Hongan-ji school stands on the western side of the stairway approaching the Gobo site, and on its eastern side is situated a branch temple held by Shinshu sect Otani school.
As both branch temples are called 'Yoshizaki Betsuin' (betsuin: branch temple), one belonging to Hongan-ji school is commonly referred to as either 'Nishi Gobo' or '(Yoshizaki) Nishi Betsuin' and one held by Otani school as 'Higashi Gobo' or '(Yoshizaki) Higashi Betsuin.'
Located nearby are temples such as 'Yoshizaki-ji Temple' (Hongan-ji school) and 'Gankei-ji Temple' (Otani school), and 'Yoshizaki Gobo Rennyo Shonin Memorial Hall' (shonin: saint) which is operated by the Honganji Foundation.
Having fled persecution by Hieizan Enryaku-ji Temple in Kyoto, the eighth head priest of Hongan-ji Temple Rennyo moved to Yoshizaki of Echizen Province in late July of 1471, and had Yoshizaki Gobo erected on the top of Mt. Yoshizaki standing by Lake Kitagata to make it the base for the missionary work of Jodo Shinshu sect Hongan-ji school in the Hokuriku region. Yoshizaki was a territory belonging to Kyogaku, the head priest of Kofuku-ji Temple Daijo-in, but it is said that Kyogaku handed it over to Rennyo because; Kyogaku's mother was originally from Hongan-ji Temple; Rennyo was trained when young under Kyogaku; it so happened that the then local governor of Yoshizaki was Renko, the chief priest of Wada Hongaku-ji Temple which was one of the few sub-temples of Hongan-ji Temple at that time.
In this place, Rennyo expounded the creed to the public in an easy-to-understand manner, sometimes using a preaching letter written by himself, which is called 'Ofumi' or 'Gobunsho,' and granting scrolls carrying 'rokuji myogo' (the six characters of Buddha's name), i.e., 'Na-Mu-A-Mi-Da-Butsu,' and so a great number of believers came to visit Yoshizaki Gobo not only from the Hokuriku region but from the Ou region (the present Tohoku region). Also, the area surrounding Yoshizaki developed as a temple town dotted with a number of priest housing and believers' lodgings.
Yoshizaki Gobo was burned to ashes on April 23, 1474, but it was reconstructed later.
It was burned to ashes again on September 30, 1475 during an upheaval of the warlike period, and Rennyo left Yoshizaki.
In 1506, the Asakura clan, after defeating the troops of Ikkoshu sect's revolt which invaded Echizen Province from Kaga Province, destroyed the priest housing in Yoshizaki, since which time Yoshizaki Gobo has remained as a ruin.
Erection of branch temples
Nishi Betsuin (Jodo Shinshu sect Hongan-ji school) was built in 1746 and Higashi Betsuin (Shinshu sect Otani school) in 1747 at the foot of Mt. Yoshizaki.
Mt. Yoshizaki (commonly called Oyama in the locality), which is a small hill with a height of 33 meters above sea level and an area of 20,000 square meters, is a natural fort facing Lake Kitagata on three sides, namely north, west and south. Yoshizaki Gobo stood on the top of this mountain. Designated as a national historical site, the area was developed as a park in 1975. At present, it is jointly owned by Jodo Shinshu sect Hongan-ji school and Shinshu sect Otani school.
Site of the main hall of Yoshizaki Gobo
Memorial services conducted on the anniversary of the death of Rennyo
April 23 to May 2 of every year
Shinshu sect followers walk from Higashi Hongan-ji Temple in Kyoto to Yoshizaki Gobo, carrying a palanquin which contains the image of Rennyo and reproducing his journey from the capital to Yoshizaki. The procession leaves Kyoto on April 17, passes through the spots on the coast of Lake Biwa which are associated with Rennyo and arrives at Yoshizaki Gobo in the night of April 22, and a number of memorial services are conducted in both of the two Hongan-ji Yoshizaki Betsuin.