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Temple 9, Hōrin-ji

The Dharma Wheel Temple

Temple 9, Hōrin-ji

Hōrin-ji is Temple No. 9 on the Shikoku pilgrimage, or Henro. It stands among fields on the plain at the bottom of the Tokushima rift valley.

What to see

The temple resembles a fortified compound, being surrounded by a high wall over which mature trees extend their branches. The main gate is a small, elegant two-storey structure, housing small red and white guardians.

The small main hall is directly ahead across the central plaza, and the Daishi Hall stands to the right. To the left of the courtyard is a covered washbasin, the temple office, and a belfry. There’s a seated bronze Buddha in front of the temple office, and a bronze Kūkai in front of the main hall. On the right of the courtyard is the priest’s quarters.

In the main hall you can see a pile of miniature straw sandals called waraji of the type worn by pilgrims, and a pair of old crutches.

History

It was founded by Kūkai who carved the image of its deity, which is one of the few surviving examples of a reclining Buddhas of its type in Japan. In 815, Kūkai found a white snake here. Since the white snake is said to be a messenger of Buddha, Kūkai carved a reclining Buddha statue and founded the temple to house the principal image. The statue of Shaka Nyorai entering nirvana shows the Buddha lying with his head to the north with his face facing west and his right side underneath. The sal tree beside it has withered, and the statues of Rakan and animals who mourn the Buddha are also enshrined. The image is shown once every five years.

In ancient times, the temple was located in the mountains about 4 km north of the present location and it was a magnificent compound. Foundations and burnt soil remain at the site, which was destroyed by Chōsokabe Motochika during the war of unification in 1582.

The temple was rebuilt in the current location around 1648. However, the entire temple burned down again in 1859 when the villagers were practicing a puppet play in the temple, leaving only the belfry. The current temple was rebuilt in the Meiji period. In 1882, the Emperor Meiji gave Hōrin-ji a change of clothes for Kōbō Daishi. The garment is maintained as a treasure of the temple.

Legends

Once upon a time, when a person who could not walk without crutches came to worship, it was reported that his legs became lighter in the middle of the approach and he was completely healed so that he could walk without crutches, and many waraji are dedicated to the main hall. You can buy waraji amulets at the temple office and dedicate them with a prayer for healthy legs.

Information

Name in Japanese: 法輪寺

Pronunciation: hōrinji

Address: Tanaka 198-2 Donaricho Donari, Awa-shi, Tokushima, 771-1506

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