Ankoku-ji Temples and Risho-to Pagodas (安国寺利生塔)

Ankoku-ji Temples and Risho-to Pagodas were temples and pagodas established throughout Japan with the exceptions of Hokkaido and Okinawa by Takauji ASHIKAGA and his younger brother Tadayoshi ASHIKAGA during the Northern and Southern Courts period.

Summary

On the recommendation of the Rinzai Sect priest Muso Soseki, a plan was developed to establish one temple and one pagoda in each province to pray for the souls of those who died in battle under Emperor Godaigo, just as Emperor Shomu established a provincial temple in each province.

In 1345, a declaration by the Retired Emperor Kogon of the Northern Court named the temples Ankoku-ji Temple and the pagodas Risho-to Pagoda.

The first was Kumeda-dera Temple in Izumi Province which was completed in 1338, and the majority were later completed during the mid-Northern and Southern Courts period.

Some Ankoku-ji Temples and Risho-to Pagodas were completely new structures but there were provinces in which existing temples were repaired to serve the purpose. This construction had a major cultural and political significance such as the ensuing spread of Zen Buddhism (particularly the Rinzai Sect) as a result of Ankoku-ji Temples and the regulation of forms of Buddhism other than Zen by Risho-to Pagodas. However, Ankoku-ji Temples and Risho-to Pagodas fell into decay with the decline of the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun).