Number 20Rinkō-ji temple
History of the temple
The legend says that in the year 740 a famous monk Gyōki (668-749) following an ordered by Emperor Shōmu (701-756) was on his way to Ise Shrine to pray for the safe completion of Tōdai-ji temple in Nara. When he visited this land he had a revelation. He saw a clear spring gushing in the middle of the forest and golden light coming out from it. Gyōki decided to build there a temple that would be praying for Emperor Shōmu. He named the temple Kanaisan (Golden Well Mountain), and this is where the mountain name of Rinkō-ji comes from.
In ancient times temples were often build at places where a clean spring gushed out from the ground. Rinkō-ji is also an example of such temple.
In later years the temple flourished as a praying place for many generations of the Lords of Kanbe Castle. Many offerings that were presented by them are still in the temple’s possession.
The Main Hall of the Rinkō-ji, which stands to this day, was first rebuilt during the Momoyama period (1583-1600). Then it was repaired by the abbot Gyōgen in Kanei period (1624-1644). In 1996 the roof of the Hall was restored.
The Main Hall interior is a great example of the late 16th Century style. The carving of the altar, rich coloring of the columns, splendid wall decorations, pictures of flowers and birds on the coffered ceiling and many more are unique examples of Momoyama style.
The main statue of Senju Kannon was made in Heian period (795-1092). It is 1.27m (4ft2in) high and it is made from single piece of hinoki cypress. It is said that it has elegant face and that the carving of the body is shallow and light.
This statue is a hibutsu (hidden Buddhist statue) but it is shown to the public once per year – from the night of the 8th till the morning of the 10th of August.
The statue is registered as National Important Cultural Property.
According to the records the Enma Hall (Hall enshrining Enma-ō – King of the Underworld and Judge of the Dead) was built in the late 14th Century. Since then it was rebuilt only once between the years of 1704 and 1711. It is said that it was built to hold memorial service to people who died beside the road during travel, prostitutes who died of illness, stillborn children and unlucky people. Every year on February 16th and August 16th Emma Hall is open to the public and special ritual is being held.
This temple is also a temple number 13 of Mie Shikoku 88 Temples Pilgrimage.
Kanaisan Rinkō-ji stands in the middle of Kanbe city behind Kaji district. It is commonly called Hayashi-dera (Forest temple). The temple is a sacred ground built for Emperor Shōmu. The main statue is Senju Kannon, beautiful as if Goddess Amaterasu carved it out of wood herself.
The golden light shining in the forest, fireflies flying among the trees of Mount Kanai.
Shingon Chisan branch