As the founder of Zuikōji Temple was Gensei Shōnin (1623-68) the temple name is “Genseian Zuikōji” (“Gensei Shōnin’s Hermitage Zuikō Temple”) meanwhile, as the area was filled of bamboo that Gensei Shōnin deeply appreciated, it was nicknamed “Chikuba Iori” (or “Chikuba’An” “Bamboo leaf Hermitage”) too.
During the first year of Meireki Era (1655), pondering the favor of the quiet, lovely beauty of the place, Gensei Shōnin joined his temple with the ancient Gokuraku Temple, in the Fukakusa Rakunan Area (In the Southern part of Kyōto) bamboo village. Since this hermitage’s name was originally associated with the Great Master Zhang’an (章安561—632), he changed its the name in “Shōshinan” (“Praising Spirit Hermitage”). This was just the very beginning of the Zuikōji Temple.
At the front gate of the Temple, a stone carries an unusual message for Nichiren Shū: “At entering [of this] gate it’s not allowed sake (alcohol), meat and the five parivyaya (condiments)”. It was there, in such a pure Temple atmosphere, that Gensei Shōnin was used to carry on his Buddhist studies, poetry, meditation, taking care of his [beloved] parents and performing services for them.
|夕ざれば||Yūbe sareba||As evening falls,|
|野辺の秋風||Nobe no akikaze||
From along the moors
the autumn wind
|身にしみて||Mi ni shimite||Blows chill into the heart;|
|鶉なくなり||Uzura naku nari||
And the quails raise
their plaintive cry
|深草の里||Fukakusa no sato.||
In the deep grass
of Fukakusa village.
Fujiwara no Shunzei (藤原俊成114-1204)
◆ Hond Jakuon-do Hall
It was during the first year of Kanbun era, (寛文元年1661) when Gensei Shōnin, then 39 years old, at the completion of the Shōshinan Butsuden building (The “Shoshinan Buddha’s Hall”) renamed the complex “Shinsōzan Zuikōji” (or “Fukakusa-zan Zuikōji”). He also decided for “kayabuki yane” (literally “thatching with miscanthus” but, actuall, other various kind of grass were used too; translator’s note) to reconstruct the roofs of the surrounding complex until all the believers and pilgrims could feel at ease. In the same time he ordered the carving, by hand of Nichigo Shonin (日護上人1580-1649), of a seated Shakyamuni Buddha statue, endowed with all the internal model organs, and placed it in the main hall. From the time Gensei Shōnin buried his parents in the inner part of the Temple, all the following high priest where buried and enshrinered in similar way and place.
◆The mausoleum of Gensei Shōnin元政上人の御廟
(“Sanbon Take no haka” “The three bamboo gravestone”三本竹の墓）
The meaning of the three bamboos:
One is for attainment Kōsen Rufu.
One is for the salvation of the of all living being.
One is for his parents.
Mito Mitsukuni (1628-1701) commissioned a gravestone for Gensei Shōnin’s tomb: “Just as one crosses Eagle’s Peak, one realizes how difficult it is to obtain the Way”. The temple received an engraved stone too: “The grave honouring Gensei Shōnin’s filial piety ” (Kōshi).
◆Gensei Shonin’s Hokke Senbō Ceremony and The Exhibition of the Treasured Relics
A long time consolidated tradition is held every year on 18th March, Nichirenshū priests perform Gensei Shōnin’s Memorial Ceremony (Hokke Senbō-e) and open Gensei Shōnin’s Treasured Relics to the public.
◆Gensei Shōnin’s “Hair Relic” and the Minobusan Kuon-ji
“From this vain body, such a great joy to rid myself of these black hair for the sake of the Dharma”
In the second year of the Manji Era (1659), according to the will of his mother, on the 13th day of the 3th month, Gensei Shōnin left Fukakusa to bring his father’s mortal ashes to Minobusan Kuonji. Once on Minobusan, he cut his hair, offered a funeral service and buried his father remains. In doing so, he fully embodied the same filial spirit Nichiren Daishōnin taught.
◆Fukakusa’s Kannon Bodhistattva
On the first day of the 9th month, the 4th year of Genroku Era (1691), a donation made possible the building of a new pavilion in honour of Duke Ii Naotaka’s wife (井伊直孝公1590-1659), it was held a great memorial ceremony where she was granted of attribution of the posthumous name “Ryōshin Nichi’i Daishi” (了心日意大姉).
The object of worship in this hall is the protective function and image of the Mahasattva Avalokitesvara Cintamani-chakra (Nyoirin Kannon Daibosatsu 如意輪観音大菩薩) whose adoration is connected with shielding from evil, cure of illness, preventing accidents, disbanding sworn enemies and keeping oneself away from them. As Kannon promises to fulfill all the wishes, it’s custom that when someone fulfill his long cherished dream, offers “cushions” (yumemakura 夢枕, to simbolyze “what is really closed to one’s dream” or “the place where one fits the head”) to Avalokitesvara (or in Japanese “Kannon”), for this reason local object of worship is also called “Musō no Kannon” (夢想の観音- ). The prayer is performed three days a week.
Prayer should pray for 37 days or 21 days. and then prayer must worship every month on 1st day and 15th day and 18th day for getting good fortune and karma.
◆The 31 Protectors of The Lotus Sutra
The Services to the 30 Protectors of The Lotus Sutra and to the 31 aspects of Daijikokuten, according to the practice Gensei Shōnin performed, are carried on in the quiet atmosphere of the mountain and in the austerity of the temples. Here the setting of the 30 Protectors starts with Tenshō Daijin (or Amaterasu), Hachiman Daibosatsu, Fushimi Inari, Matsuo Daimyōjin, Kitano Tenman Jizai, Ten Gion Daijin and includes others, collected from the tradition of whole country. All the Ujigami have a common Hondō where to be worshipped, since the “One Month Rotation System Theory” (一ヶ月三十一柱論 “Ikkagetsu Hitobashirajin theory”) fits one pillar and god to a specified day of the month. The hall is still on the “Banjinzan” (番神山 “Mountain of Gods”), the place where the worship was originaly instituted, in the boundaries of the ancient Gokurakuji complex.
◆Benzaiten of the White “Dragon Rinse”
This is the place to worship “Hakuryū Zenirarai Benzaiten” 白龍銭洗弁財天 (“Benzaiten of the White “Dragon Rinse money for good fortun”), that is originally the indian Sarasvati goddess and her function is bestowing wealth, monetary gain, fortune, allowance, longevity, happiness and granting wonderful resetting of better life conditions.
People sincerely praying for the Naga (Dragon) Goddess are kindly requested to bring a little purse specifically supposed to give pure “offer”, reflecting in proper way their devote attitude: [if well done], it’s granted wealth, monetary gain, fortune and happiness.
T he Temple is open to the visitor’s needs for three weeks a month, for seven days a week, so that for 21 days so that’s possible asking for special “goriyaku” (“benefical grants”) to help overcoming tobacco or alcohol addiction, illness, relationship problems, foundation of new temples and so on. Kannondō Hall performs special prayer ceremonies too.