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Myosen Temple

How to get

Get off the #2 bus (Minami-sen) at Takedabashi Bus Stop. There is a T-intersection between Ryotsu- bound and Mano-bound bus stops of "Takeda Bashi". Turn that corner to Ko-sado mountain side. Walking on uphill slope for 12 minutes takes you to the "Gate" of Myosen-temple.

Photo.35.1 Five-layer Tower of Myosen Temple

This temple is famous for the five layers tower. This is the only one of this kind, not only in Sado but in Niigata prefecture. On the mainland of Niigata prefecture, there is a three layers tower in Oppo Temple at Kinoto 1112 in Tainai-city1). The five-layer tower of Myosen Temple has 24 meter (79 feet) height. It is commonly said to have been built in 1825, though, a book “Ukiyo Banashi” says that the tower was built in 1828 when Nittai was the 31st Chief Priest2). It is unclear but The Priest Nittai is said to have been sent to Hachijo-island in the Pacific Ocean for the accusation of corruption with donation3). A historical record of the Myosen Temple says “Priest Niitai was eliminated from the succession.” and “He started a different ritual” 4).

In the temple area, there is the tomb of Mr. Hino Suketomo who was executed in 1332. He had been detained in Sado for the punishment because he joined Emperor Godaigo’s attempt to overthrow the Kamakura Samurai Government5). The failed attempt might have been similar to another incident one century earlier. Jokyu Incident happened in 1221, in which three Jokos of Gotoba, Tsuchimikado, and Juntoku had tried overthrowing the Samurai government “Kamakura Bakufu”. One of the three, Juntoku-joko was sent to Sado and had never returned to Kyoto; he died in the Island. What happened one century later was Shochu Incident in 1324. Then Emperor Godaigo wanted to get the power back to the Imperial Court from Samurai government. But the plot was leaked to the Samurai side. Mr.Hino Suketomo was detained and interrogated. He said he was the mastermind and the Emperor knew nothing about the plot6). It was of course to evade the Emperor’s responsibility for the plot.

So many people were sent to Sado as punishment. Some were pardoned to be back on main land, some stayed in the island until the last day of their lives. But it seems rare that a detained person had got a capital punishment on the island. Emperor Godaigo made another plot to overthrow the Kamakura Samurai government in 13317). This time again the plot was leaked. Emperor Godaigo was sent to Iki Island and some other figures were executed by Kamakura Bakufu. It seemed uncertain how much Mr. Himo Suketomo was involved with the new plot because he was in Sado, but unfortunately he was also beheaded in June 2nd 1332. The place of execution was not exactly recorded. He was 43 years old. Some after stories are; Emperor Godaigo got out of Iki island in 1333 and soon the Kamakura Samurai Government was overthrown by Ashikaga Takauji who started another Samurai government “Muromachi Bakufu (1336-1573)”.

Mr.Hino Suketomo's handwriting remains in the temple. It was the Lotus Sutra with fine writing on the paper of 5.8 centimeter (2.3 inch) width and 14.4 meter (47 feet) length8). The length is so long that it is rolled around the axis of crystal9). He copied the Sutra as his daily work while he was confined. He completed handwriting copying in 1331 when it was just one year before his execution10). At the end of the long rolling paper, there are two afterwords dated in May and July. One says he wrote this for praying his father's afterlife and finished in the same month of his father’s death in May. However he should have heard his mother's death right after the first afterwords. He added another afterwords that says it was also written for praying his mother's afterlife11). Now his writing "Saiji Hokekyo" is an important cultural property of the Nation. Memorial service is held for him every year on the day of his death, June 2nd in the lunar calendar12). Mr.Hino Suketomo is enshrined in Daizen Shrine.

Photo.35.2 Main Building of Myosen Temple

If you want to take a nice picture of the five layer tower, it would be better to go there in morning hours because of the direction of sunlight. In the afternoon, the sunlight is reverse for the picture from the east.