Establishment

 This temple, formally called Kyoei-zan Daikyoji, was founded during the Kan-ei Period(1629) under the auspices of the nineteenth head priest of Hokekyoji Temple in Shimofusa Nakayama, Reverend Zen-nai-in Nitchu.
The second head priest of Daikyoji, Rev. Daikyo-in Nichi-ei, is credited for its actual logistical establishment.


The Appearance of the Ita-honzon (Wooden Main Diety)

 For many years, this temple housed a figure of Taishakuten (Indira), until it disappeared for a period during the middle ages (between the later Heian and Muromachi Periods(1175-1573)).
The lost main deity was miraculously found when the ninth head priest, Kotei-in Nikkyo, disturbed by the severely dilapidated condition of the main prayer hall, decided to renovate.
Coincidentally, this main deity was discovered in the attic of the main hall on a Koshin Day in the spring of the eighth year of the An-ei Period(1779).
A brief account by Rev. Nikkyo himself claims, "The main figure that was discovered in the attic measured two shaku and five sun in length, one shaku and five sun in width, and five fun in thickness.
Contrary to its dimensions, it is very heavy and very hard owing to the heavy layer of accumulated soot.
We were not able to make out what it beheld until we purified it with water.
Whereupon, we found that one side was a wooden print block of the odaimoku carved by St. Nichiren himself in hopes that it would serve to prevent disease.
On the other side is a woodblock print of Taishakuten.
This, in fact, was the talked about main figure of worship.


The Main Figure of Worship

 On one side of the main figure is caved the "Hail the Wonderful Lotus Sutra", and on each side is carved a quotation from the chapter on the Medicine-King from the Lotus Sutra which reads, "This sutra is the medicine for all the ill people in the world.
Should there be one who is sick and he or she should listen to this sutra, then they will be instantly cured and be free from the fetters of aging and death." And on the other side of the main figure is carved the figure of Taishakuten in a pose of anger with the right hand wielding a sword and the left palm open.
This figure depicts the conquering of evil.
That is, those who believe and follow the Buddha's teaching will certainly be protected by Taishakuten whenever such a person becomes ill or is subsumed in fire or any other kind of disaster.
Taishakuten will remove and destroy such evil.


Mysterious Merits

 It was during the third year of the Tenmei Period(1781-1789) after the Anei Period(1772-1781) concluded in its ninth year that saw the spread of epidemics and starvation.
Rev. Nikyo felt that it was time to save those who have experienced disasters.
Thus, he carried the figure of Taishakuten by himself and visited the victims in various part of Edo and Shimofusa, among others.
He passed out ichi-ryu go-fu, in which he staunchly believed, and encouraged the people to pray to the main figure which is said to have brought about many mysterious merits.


The Eve of Koshin Day

 In this manner, faith in Taishakuten initially centralized in Edo, expanded, especially when it began to be associated with the practice of Koshin-machi, fueling popularity in the temple's "Yoi-goshin" (Eve of Koshin Day) festival during the latter Edo period(1603-1867).
A trend magazine published during the early Meiji Period(1868-1904) states:
"Among those associated with the Koshin faith, there is Taishakuten located in Shibamata of South Katsushika Ward.
Taishakuten is a Brahmin God of India.
Later, Taishakuten would be known as a protector of Buddhist teachings;
though, it had little connection with the practice of "Koshin-machi", imported from China.
Instead, the name "Koshin" in Daikyoji's case simply refers to the rediscovery on Koshin Day of its once-lost figure of worship.
Ever since its discovery, Koshin Day has been celebrated by people from Tokyo to Ko-ume Hikifune, making pilgrimages in small groups, walking in the dark, through rice paddies and gardens, always greeting friends and strangers alike along the way, saying, 'Good morning, good morning'.
This kind of scene reminds one of days past when everything was simple." For as far as one could see, lines of people with lit torches could be seem walking through towns such as Ko-ume, Hikifune, Yotsugi, and Tateishi, and then crossing the river at Magarikane (Takasago) and coming to Shibamata.
And another row of shimmering torches passed through Senju and Niijuku, making the event quite a celebration.
Tea houses that offer among other things, Kusa-dango (rice cakes of yomogi grass), still exist.
People who make pilgrimages stay the night in the main hall of the temple, receive the day's first "o-kaicho" prayer in the morning, drink some holy water overflowing from the spring in the garden and then finally head for home.


Architecture

 Old records claim that a four-sided, six-room hall had already existed during the Bunka-Bunsei Period(1803-1829).
When one passed through the small front gate, and walked up the cobblestone pathway, one would be led straight to the main hall.
In front of the hall grows a pine tree (named 'Zui-ryu-matsu').
To the right of the main hall, stood the "Soshi-do" (the hall housing Saint Nichiren), and on the left, the priest's quarters.
The main hall was severely dilapidated by the beginning of the Meiji Period.
So, the thirteenth head priest, Rev. Nittei rebuilt the main hall along with the priest's quarters in the twenty-first year of the Meiji Period.
The fourteenth head priest, Rev. Nichiko completed the building of the present main gate, Niten-mon, in the twenty-ninth year of the Meiji Period.
The fifteenth head priest, Rev. Nittan, completed the building of the inner chamber of the Taishaku-do (the hall which houses the figure of Taishakuten) in the fourth year of the Taisho Period(1912-1926), making for a spectacular view.
The sixteenth head priest, Rev. Nissai completed the construction of both the common prayer chamber of the Taishaku-do as well as the "Dai-kyaku-den" (Great Visitor's Reception Hall) in the fourth year of the Showa Period(1926-1989).
The ten carvings depicting portions of the Lotus Sutra which adorn the outer wall of the inner chamber of the Taishaku-do in addition to the interior decoration of the Dai-kyaku-den with the use of a nandin tree as a post for the 'tokonoma' were projects managed by Rev. Nissai as well.
The seventeenth head priest, Rev. Taigen-in Nichiji conducted the repair of the Soshi-do, finished the kindergarten structure, built the bell tower in 1955, refurbished the garden and named it "Sui-kei-en" in December of 1965, completed the outdoor amulet booth,"Fuku-jyu-ten", in May of 1967, finished the "Dai-Kairo", or long corridor in three parts in 1970, and erected the assembly hall, "Hosho Kaikan" in March of 1973.
In June of 1974, Rev. Nichiji would be named the 88th head priest of Kuonji Temple at Mount Minobu.
Dai-ho-in Nissho would succeed Rev. Nichiji at Daikyoji as its eighteenth and present head priest.
Rev. Nissho completed the inscribed stone fencing on the western side of the temple yard in the autumn of 1975 and those along the southern gate in 1982.
1978 saw the repair of the Soshi-do.
The walkway circling the garden was completed in 1984.
The Sculpture Gallery was completed in 1991.
And in 1994, the carved relief of "Playing Monkeys" would be completed to adorn the walls of the Soshi-do.
About Shibamata Taishakuten