A visit to Kojin-san, the guardian of Takarazuka City for over 1,000 years
Said to have been built over 1,100 years ago, Kiyoshikojin Seichoji Temple in Takarazuka City is the head temple of the Shingon Sanpo Buddhist sect. As the place where the God of Fire, the God of the Kitchen as well as the founder of Japan’s ancient religion Shugendo are enshrined, the grounds are steeped in the ambience of the ancient Japanese syncretization of Shinto with Buddhism. Locals call the temple “Kojin-san,” and come here to pray for family safety, business prosperity, protection from misfortune and a variety of other reasons. Each season brings beautiful scenery, especially that of two giant ginkgo trees in the center of the grounds that glow golden among the fall foliage. Estimated to be 400 years old, they have been designated as a natural monument in Takarazuka City. I recently had the pleasure of visiting the rich natural surroundings of this spiritual place.
The nostalgic atmosphere of the lane leading to the temple called Kiyoshikojin Sando Shopping Street is full of delights! See also this article. https://visithanshin.jp/enews/2260/
Straight through the Main Gate is the Chozusha, a place to rinse your hands and mouth before entering the temple. Use one of the ladles to pour the clean water over your hands as a physical and spiritual purification ritual.
Soon you see Tendo (Hall of Worship). One of the Seven Gods of Good Fortune, the big-bellied Hoteison (the God of Contentment), welcomed me.
Looking back from the Tendo, the spectacular scenery of the magnificent torii gate and the large ginkgo trees come into view.
West of the Tendo is Gohodo (Main Shrine) against the background of the “Kojin Yogo no Sakaki” tree. Here it is said that the god Kojin appeared when Seichoji Temple was founded. Sometime long ago a custom began. Those who are able to draw a monetary offering in the offertory there to themselves with a wooden stick will return double the amount in an offering on their next visit. It is believed that they won’t lack pocket money if they wrap the money they gathered with paper and put in their purse, or that they will experience good things if they keep it as a lucky charm until their next visit. On this day as well, enthusiastic people tried using the wooden sticks provided.
This is the Hibashi Nosho (Fire-tong Hall). In Japan, certain ages in a person’s life are considered “bad luck years.” Using metal chopsticks made for working over fire called “hibashi,” it is believed the bad luck can be plucked out of our lives. The hibashi are kept at home during the bad luck years, and after that they are stored in this building.
When you get closer, you will find some very large hibashi.
This is Gyoja Do (the Pilgrim’s Cave), a small shrine set in hollowed out bedrock that enshrines “En no Gyoja,” the founder of Shugendo, an ancient Japanese religion. The unfathomable power of En no Gyoja seems to be flow from the darkness.
The Tendo enshrines the gods and Buddhist deities of good fortune. Seiten-sama is the Buddhist god of protection, and the Eleven-faced Kanzeon Bosatsu is believed to bestow benefits in this mortal world.
This is a stone staircase connecting the Tendo and the Hondo (Main Hall). Exactly halfway is the Takara Inari Shrine, newly dedicated in the Meiji era (1868-1912).
Now, I have arrived at the Hondo. The main deity, Dainichi Nyorai, is enshrined in front, Fudo Myoo on the left, and Kobo Daishi on the right.
Opposite Ike-en (Pond Garden), Ichigan Jizo-son (Statue of Ksitigarbha for one wish) is a gold-copper statue erected in 1891 with the donations of devotees. If you sprinkle water on it and make a wish, good fortune is believed to come. Today, too, children were pouring water on the tall Jizo.
The Tessai Museum Annex, Museum of History and Art, is a beautiful building with an exterior made entirely of clear glass, except for the roof. Born in Kyoto, the revered master of modern “Bunjinga” painting Tessai Tomioka (1836-1924) once served as a priest at a shrine in Osaka and also had deep connections with Buddhism, eventually forming a deep friendship with the head of Kiyoshikojin Seichoji Temple. Due to this bond, Tessai’s works were collected at this temple. As of November 2021, although the Tessai Museum “Seiko-den” was closed for reorganization, some of Tessai’s works could be enjoyed at the free admission Museum of History and Art instead.
Ike-en next to the Museum of History and Art is a Japanese style garden with a path around a central pond, built sometime between the 17th and 18th centuries. As usual, today lively carps swam under the herons resting on the rocks amid the gorgeous stonework of this ornamental garden.
Enjoy the art and history of this temple and immerse yourself in the mysterious atmosphere of the ancient Japanese syncretization of Shinto with Buddhism amid a glorious natural environment. A wonderful way to energize both mind and body.
From the nearest station, Hankyu Railway Kiyoshikojin Station, walk for about 30 minutes along the interesting shopping street. On Sundays and holidays, there is also a bus (one-way fare 220 yen) from JR Takarazuka Station to Kiyoshikojin Parking Lot. (For details, please check the Hankyu Bus website, https://www.hankyubus.co.jp/rosen/route/2126_takaduka.html)