Home > Japanese Culture > Osu Vol.3 -Temples at times, strongholds at other times-

Osu Vol.3 -Temples at times, strongholds at other times-

The construction of Nagoya castle in 1610 led to the redevelopment of Nagoya city. Osu, which was located between Nagoya castle and Nagoya port, must have been the first priority for the redevelopment as the main gate of Nagoya. The lord at the time ordered some temples and shrines to move into Osu in rebuilding the town in order to protect the area from enemies. Buddhist temples or Shinto shrines at the time were regarded as citadels or fortresses in case of emergencies. Osu Kannon temple and Banshouji temple were also moved with such a purpose.

Osu Kannon temple
Osu Kannon temple, one of the three Kannon temple in Japan, has its formal name: Kitanozan Shimpukuji Houshouin. It was originally built in Gihu prefecture in 1324 by the order of Emperor Godaigo, and was moved to Osu in 1612 by the order of Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Noushin shounin, a high ranked Buddhism priest, received the order from Emperor Godaigo to build the temple. He visited Ise Jingu shrine to pray for everything he needed in building the temples. During his visit in Ise Jingu shrine, he had a dream in which a Buddhism god, Kannon Bosatsu, appeared right at the head of his bed. He considered the dream as divine guidance from god and decided to enshrine Kannon Bosatsu as the main god to the temple.

Take a look at the photo below. I took it last Sunday. Can you see the crest or emblem shaping like plum blossoms?
Speaking of plum blossoms, it might remind you of a famous scholar in the Heian era and the shrines enshring him. His name is Sugawara Michizane and Tenmangu(s) are the shrines to enshrine him. You, especially pious people, might feel awkward from the coincidence. In fact, Osu Kannon was originally built to supervise Kitano jinja shrine, which was also built by the order of Emperor Godaigo. You already might catch it. Kitano jinja shrine enshrines Sugawara Michizane. So, plum blossoms are the crest or emblem to Osu Kannon temple. Even now Osu kannon temple has Kitano jinja shrine on its premises. I would like you to visit the shrine as well as the temple.
*Incidentally, please remember the term umebachi, which is a jargon to the crest or emplem of Sugawara Michizane, if you are intrigued by RAKUGO.
*Shinto and Buddhism had been considered as the united one since the Heian era. You’ve already understood why Noushin shounin visited Ise jingu shrine and prayed to Shinto gods in order to build a Buddhist temple. It might sound strange, though.

A large number of people visit Osu Kannon temple on Setsubun. People throw beans, shouting ‘Fortune in and demons out!’ In case of Osu kannon, you’re not allowed to shout ‘demons out!’ because the ogre mask is the treasure in Osu Kannon.

Mechanic puppets in Osu Kannon temple, featuring Tokugawa Muneharu, who is a histrical person in this region.

Banshouji temple
Banshouji temple is another famous temple in Osu. It used to be in other place around where Nagoya castle is. It was also moved to Osu in 1610 by the order.

You can have the same feeling as the one when you looked at the photo of umebachi.
Yes, Banshouji also has a Shinto shrine on its premises. Oinari-san or Inari is enshrined in the shrine. Banshouji temple was said to be starved for fund long time ago. Oinari-san(normally, formed of foxes) appeared at the time and donated some money to the temple. Ever since, the temple established the shrine to show respect to Oinari-san. Oinari-san is basically categorized in one of Shinto gods; however, it is also considered as one of Buddhism god: Dakini-ten.

The main enshrined god in Banshouji temple is Fudohmyoho. From some myths, we tend to associate Fudohmyoho with a holy guardian. Fudohmyoho in Banshouji has an anecdote; dried rice cakes kept in his pockets of Oda Nobunaga saved his life from shooting when he conquered a region. The subordinate of Oda Nobunaga thought of this fortune as a blessing from Fudohmyoho. So people call the god in Banshouji temple migawari-hudoh(roughly translated ‘sacrificed hudoh’).

You can see the grave of Oda Nobuhide(father of Oda Nobunaga) through the pathway with a mysterious atmosphere. We learned an anecdote that Oda Nobunaga threw some incense toward the altar of Oda Nobuhide at Nobuhide’s funeral. The astonishing topic happened at the place where the temple used to be.

Mechanic puppets in Banshouji temple, featuring Oda Nobunaga.

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