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Daian Temple

How to get

Get off the #1 bus (Hon-sen) at Aikawa bus stop or Kiralium Sado bus stop. The road to the Daian-Temple looks a little complicated on the map, but it is easy to get there. The entrance by the parking lot is shown by bright green arrow in the photo 14.1. Soon you will get to the stairway shown in Photo. 14.2. The gate has a board that says this is the place to practice “Nenbutsu” prayer as shown in Photo.14.3.

Photo.14.1 The Entrance of Daian Temple

Daian Temple is of Jodo-shu (Jodo Buddhism), built in August 11, 16061). This temple was built for the first Sado administrator, Mr. Okubo Nagayasu, so that he could rest in peace. At the beginning of the samurai warrior government “Edo Bakufu”, the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu decided to put Sado under the direct control by the Bakufu. Ieyasu assigned Okubo Nagayasu to be the manager of the mine because Mr. Okubo was thought to be an appropriate person to run the gold and silver mine. When he was assigned to the position in 1603, the gold and silver mine in Aikawa had more and more become prosperous. So Mr. Okubo moved the office from Tsurushi Silver Mine to Aikawa. Under his management, Aikawa town had grown to have population of 50,000. With an earnest desire for a peaceful afterlife, Mr. Okubo asked the high ranking monk in Kyoto, Koh'un'in Teian, to build Daian Temple. Chinese character "Dai" comes from his name Okubo's "O" and the character "An" comes from Nagayasu's "Yasu"2) 3) . One of two Important cultural properties is a small totem "Gyakushu-to" which was made in 1611 while he was still alive. It is a small stone objet, but it has lasted 400 years. You can see this "Gyakushu-to" on the left hand side when approaching the mail hall of the temple. Okubo Nagayasu died in 1613. After his death, the Shogun Ieyasu doubted Mr. Okubo's handling of the money. Ieyasu ordered all seven sons to commit hara-kiri suicide. Ieyasu wanted to annihilate the Okubo family. Two daughters were not killed4) .

Since many traveler's pamphlet tells you this brutal story that happened onto Mr. Okubo's family, so let this page tell you another topic, about Jodo-Shu Buddhism which this Daian temple belongs to. Jodo-Shu was started in 1175 by Honen-bo Genku (Honen; 1133-1212). At that time, Japanese society was experiencing a major change. Aristocratic power was declining; on the other hand, samurai warriors had got strength in society and eventually started controlling Japanese society with strong men's government "Bakufu". Ordinary people were also getting more importance as citizen in society and culture.

Photo.14.2 Stairway, Gate, and the Mainhall of Daian Temple

Until that time, Buddhism had just been the religion for wealthy Aristocratic people. Besides its dogma was difficult for ordinary people to understand. When a ritual was being done, its procedures were so complicated and elaborate. Only rich and high-ranking aristocracy with much money could make temple, statues, and objects of worships. When Buddhism was wanted by samurai warriors and ordinary people, it should be a simple and easy religion5) . Given that situation, many groups of new Buddhism were initiated in 12-13th century in Japan. Those new Buddhism groups are called, in general sense, Kamakura New Buddhism. The name came from then samurai warrior government "Kamakura Bakufu". In fact many researchers are arguing and criticizing the definition and concept of Kamakura New Buddhism, but it is better to leave such discussions to experts. Anyway one of Kamakura New Buddhisms and the earliest one was Jodo-shu by Honen.

Honen was born in 1133 in then-Mimasaka County which is currently part of Okayama Prefecture. When Hone was just 9 years old, his father Uruma Tokikuni was killed as result of a dispute with a strong men. Father's last word to him was that "Do not hate the enemy but be a Buddhist". Honen got out of home and went to temple at the age of 13. And then he was disciplined on Hiei Mountain which was one of the two centers of Japanese Buddhism. When he was 43, he realized that there was only way to be saved. It was reading aloud a paryer to Amida Buddha "Namu Amidabutsu". He started saying in 1175 that anyone could be saved by this easy practice of Nembutsu. Honen's Jodo-shu was a new Buddhism, but not yet an authorized at that time. People on the old established Buddhism side criticized and attacked Honen's Jodo-shu.

Suppression in 1207 resulted in executions of four disciples and punishments of remote custodies for Honen and six disciples. Honen was sent to Sanuki in current Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku Island. In fact Honen's custody place was to be Tosa but he could stay closer to Kyoto. Honen was allowed to come back Kyoto in 1211. He died in 1212. He wrote, with help from his disciples, a book "Senjaku Hongan Nembutsu Shu" in 1198. He made a clear distinction of two Buddhisms: Shodoh-mon and Jodo-mon with the latter being his Jodo-shu. He insisted that Senju Nembutsu of Jodo-mon is the only way to be saved. Opened to public after his death, this book also caused a massive criticism from conventional Buddhism side6) . Fortunately, after that, Jodo-shu could get an established status in Japanese Buddhism.Not only for that, two important Buddhisms were derived from Jodo-shu.

Photo.14.3 Plate Hung at the Gate of Daian Temple

One is Jodo Shin-shu (Shin-Shu, in short) that was founded by Shinran who was a high ranking disciple of Honen. When Honen got a punishment of remote custody to Tosa in 1207, Shinran was also punished of remote custody. Shinran's place was Echigo that is currently Naoetsu area of Niigata Prefecture. So the place is just the opposite shore of Sado island. Shinran's Shin-Shu became the biggest majority of Japanese Buddhism. Although this site does not introduce any of Shin Shu temples, many Shin-shu temples are also in Sado. From the start of Shin-shu, Priest's marriage has been accepted because Shiran himself got married. In the old times Buddhism did not allowed marriage of Priest, however, not only Shin-shu Priests but any other Buddhist Priests can get married in Japan. You can see another visible difference of Shin-shu Priest; they have long hair.

There is a famous sentence in the book of "Tan'nisho" written by Shinran's disciple Yuien. It says "A sinful person is the one who would of course go to Heaven". Since this does not encourage you to do sinful acts, it would be better to change "A sinful person" to be "A person who realized himself/herself to be sinful". Anyway, it is good to know that this sentence is not Shinran's words, but Honen's. It was like; Honen said it, Shinran quoted, and Yuien wrote down7) .

The second stream is Ji-shu that was founded by Ippen. As for Ji-shu, the page for Iwayasan Cave tells more.

Perhaps, Kamakura New Buddhism, or its main part, Jodo-shu (both Jodo-shu and Jodo-shinshu) may look like the Reformation in the West8) . In fact they have a similarity in changes from authoritarian religion to ordinary people's religion. However, there is a clear difference between Kamakura New Buddhism in 12-13th century and Western Reformation in 16th century. Jodo-shu brought too much change from the original idea of Buddhism, while Western Reformation brought return to the original idea of Christianity. Mr. Watanabe Shoko criticized Jodo-shu, especially Jodoshin-shu, in his book in 1958 saying that Jodo-shu had done the totally different function from what western reformation had done9) . This website does not intend to make any positive or negative judgment about Jodo-shu (and/or Jodoshin-shu). The purpose of this article is to introduce the importance of Honen in the history of Japanese Buddhism.