Chogosonshi-ji Temple (朝護孫子寺)

Chogosonshi-ji Temple is the Grand Head Temple of {Shigisan Shingon sect} located on Mt. Shigi in Heguri-cho, Ikoma County, Nara Prefecture. Its principal image is Bishamonten (Vaisravana, also called Tamonten). It is also called 'Shigisan-ji Temple' and commonly known as 'Shigisan no Bishamon san' (Bishamonten of Mt. Shingi). Every year, many worshippers visit the temple in the New Year period.

It is counted among the Seven Gods of Good Fortune in Yamato: Chogosonshi-ji Temple, Kume-dera Temple, Kojima-dera Temple, Kobusa Kannon-ji Temple, Tanzan-jinja Shrine, Taima-dera Temple Nakano-do Hall, and Abe Monju-in Temple.

History

Chogosonshi-ji Temple is located on the Nara Prefecture side slope of Mt. Shigi towering on the border of Yamato Province (Nara Prefecture) and Kawachi Province (Osaka Prefecture). Its time of foundation and development are not clear.

It is said that the national treasure that is handed down in the temple, "Shigisan Engi" (legends of Mt. Shigi) was established in the late Heian period in 12th century, and it is recognized as a representative work among Japanese picture scrolls. Unlike ordinary illustrated origins of shrines and temples, this picture scroll does not describe anything about details of how Chogosonshi-ji Temple was founded, but its subject mater is a miraculous stories of a highly virtuous monk called Myoren (命蓮) who was practicing in Mt. Shigi. The volume two (of three) of the illustrated scroll describes an anecdote that Myoren healed the illness of the Emperor of the Engi era (Emperor Godaigo) with his power of Buddhism. An anecdote almost same as the captions of "Shigisan Engi" is contained in "Uji Shui Monogatari" (a collection of the Tales from Uji), and "Konjaku Monogatari (Shu) " (The Tale of Times Now Past) also contains an anecdote about foundation of Shigisan-ji Temple.
(In "Uji Shui Monogatari," the name of the monk is 'Moren, and in "Konjaku Monogatari," it is 'Myoren [明練].')

In the article dated on September 19, 930 in "Fuso Ryakki," a history book that was established in the late Heian period, there is a description that 'Shami (novice monk) Myoren' who lived in 'Shikisan-ji Temple (志貴山寺)' in Kawachi Province' offered a prayer for cure of Emperor Daigo's disease. It seems that Emperor Daigo's disease was critical at that time and he died a month later, on October 28, which is different from the anecdote. Mt. Shigi is located on the border of Yamato Province (Nara Prefecture) and Kawachi Province (Osaka Prefecture), and the nominated address of Chogosonshi-ji is in Nara Prefecture, but it is described as 'Shigi in Kawachi' in "Uji Shui Monogatari" and "Fuso Ryakki."

Based on the above, it can be affirmed that there was a temple that enshrined Bishamonten (Vaisravana) in Mt. Shigi around 10th century in the mid Heian period and an ascetic monk lived there. As for foundation of this temple, there is a lore that Prince Shotoku was the founder, but it is probably a subjoinder associated with the lore that Prince Shotoku himself carved statues of four guardian kings when he prayed for victory against MONONOBE no Moriya. According to the lore, Bishamonten, one of the Four Heavenly Kings, appeared in front of Prince Shotoku on the hour of Tiger (3am-5am) of the day of Tiger of the year of Tiger, and thanks to the divine protection of Bishamonten, the prince defeated the Mononobe clan. Then, he founded a temple that enshrined Bishamonten in 594 and named it 'Shingi-san' or 'Mountain to believe in and to be valued (信貴山 [shingi-san], where 信 [shin] means to believe, 貴 [ki or gi] means valuable, and 山 [san] means mountain). The reason why papier-mache tigers are put everywhere in the temple is because of this anecdote. Later in 902, Emperor Daigo made the temple as a temple for prayer for 'the Imperial Court with comfort, home land protection, and long lives of descendants,' so it was given a title of 'Chogosonshi-ji Temple' from the Emperor ('Cho' is for the Imperial Court, 'go' is for protection, 'sonshi' is for descendants) by the Imperial Court.

In the Sengoku period, Nagamasa KIZAWA built Shigisan Castle on the top of Mt. Shigi. The Siege of Mt. Shigi occurred in 1577 between the castellan of the castle, Hisahide MATSUNAGA, and Nobunaga ODA, and as a result, Hisahide died and the temple was lost, but it was rebuilt by Hideyori TOYOTOMI. Currently, 'Kuhatsudo Hall' of the Chogosonshi-ji Temple is located on the top of the mountain, which is connected by an approach from around Hondo (main hall).

Buildings

Hondo
A building constructed in the manner of a stage with red lacquered parapets restored in 1958. The former hondo that was burned in 1951 was restored by a bugyo (magistrate) Katsumoto KATAGIRI at the wish of Hideyori TOYOTOMI.

Three-storied pagoda
Tahoto pagoda (a "multi-treasure" pagoda)

National Treasures

Shihon Chakushoku Shigisan Engi Emaki (Illustrated scroll of colored pictures on paper that depict the origins of Mt. Shigi)
It depicts anecdotes of Myoren Shonin (Buddhist saint) who practiced in Mt. Shigi in the mid Heian period. It is an illustrated scroll consists of three volumes: Yamazaki Choja no Maki (Millionaire Yamazaki), Engi Kaji no Maki ('Exorcism of the Emperor'), and Amagimi no Maki ('Reunion with his older sister, Nun Amagimi'). While the author is unknown, it is a masterpiece of illustrated scroll that depicts expressions of people and uplifting feelings with light and easy brush strokes.
(The original is deposited in Nara National Museum and a reproduction is exhibited in Reihokan.)

Important Cultural Properties

Gilt bronze basin with an inscription of the year 929.
Weapons: helmet (of armor), sleeves, and throat protector

Cultural Properties designated by Nara Prefecture

Bronze standing statue of Bishamonten - It has features of so-called Tobatsu Bishamonten that is rooted in the western regions of China in the late Heian period.

Others

Because the temple's principal image Bishamonten is regarded as a war deva associated with the historical event and the guardian deity of the temple is the tiger, players of Hanshin Tigers (one of professional baseball teams) visit here to pray for victory.

Public transportation:

At Oji Station (JR Yamatoji Line), transfer to Kintetsu Ikoma Line, get off at 'Shigisan-shita Station', and take Nara Kotsu Bus bound for Shigisan and get off at the terminal. From 'Kawachi Yamamoto Station (Kintetsu Osaka Line) take Kintetsu Shigi Line for 'Shigisan Guchi Station,' transfer to Kintetsu Nishi Shigi Cable Line for 'Takayasuyama Station,' transfer to Kintetsu bus for Shigisanmon.

By Car:

From Ikoma Tozanguchi on Hanna Road, take Shigi-Ikoma Skyline.

Kashiwabara City Road Shigi Ogata Line: Take National Route 170 (old road), turn to the east at Ogata Minami Crossing (Kashiwabara City), go through the mountain pass of Mt. Takao (Osaka Prefecture) and near Shigisan Nodoka Mura to Shigisan gate.

Via Nara Prefecture Road 236 Shigisan line.

Via Osaka Prefecture Road 183 Hondo Takaida line.

Parking fee: 500 yen (passenger auto/day)