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map of Toko Temple

Toko Temple

How to get

Check the bus time table first. This is not a place of easy access. Getting to the nearest town of Akadomari is already a difficult task for you. #16 bus (Akadomari-sen ) takes you to the bus stop "Toukouji Mae", but only a few bus run on the route. It is difficult to use buses for both of go and back. Maybe you want to walk for one of go-and-back. This website does not recommend you walking upslope from Akadomari because it is difficult to find a right way to the temple. If you are confident for route-finding, walking down from the temple to Akadomari town would be an option. There is less chance to lose your way. Just go down the road to the sea. Anyway this temple is one of the most difficult places to visit for tourist. The bus stop "Toukouji Mae" is a little far from the temple. Go up the slope of the road from the bus stop and turn west.

Photo.57.1 The Stone Gatepost of Toko Temple

Toko temple is of Soto-shu1), one of Zen Buddhism. The temple is famous for its legend of an imaginary animal "Mujina" which is thought to be, biologically, raccoon dog2) or "Tanuki" in Japanese. The legend is about dialogue between Mujina and the chief priest of the temple. Therefore it is important to know that Mujina was not just a raccoon dog but a personified creature who can have a debate with Zen master. The official history book of Akadomari quotes the legend from its old version3).

Photo.57.2 Mujina Zentatsu Dai-Gongen in Toko Temple

A Mujina 'Zentatsu' lives in the cave of Mitsu-ga Mountain in the temple. He always starts a debate with the chief priest when a new priest comes to the temple. It is said that the Mujina 'Zentatsu' drove the priest out of the temple if a priest's answer was not good.

One fine day, all of a sudden Mujina 'Zentatsu' opened the door at the entrance of the temple building. He stopped his motion over the threshold. Mujina started a debate by asking "Hey, you priest, am I going in or out of the room?". The priest soon saw that Mujina would say "I'm going out" if the priest answered "going in", or say "I'm going in" if the priest answered "going out". The priest picking up a club, swung it, and asked back "Hey, you Zentatsu, am I hitting you now or not hitting?". Mujina ran away in a flurry.

Another chief priest was one-eyed. One summer night, he was relaxed in the garden under the moon light. Then came Zentatsu in, sitting down in front of the priest. Zentatsu asked "How does it look like with one eye?" meaning whether or not the one eye could get a view of two eyes. The one-eyed priest spoke out "The lone moon in the blue night, its light can go through the air and the ground." meaning one eye can get much view as well as two eyes because just one moon in the sky can light up whole world. The priest won the debate.

One day the other chief priest wanted to light up. So he hit a flint stone and ore each other to get a fire. When he put the fire onto lantern, then came Zentatsu in, with rattle by opening big door of the main hall. Zentastu said "Hey, you priest, did that fire come from the stone or the ore?". Then the priest hit Zentatsu by a rod at his hand, as if the rod were one that was used in Zen meditation with saying "You Zentatsu, are you a father's child or a mother's child?". Mujina 'Zentatsu' shrunk and ran into the cave3*).

Photo.57.3 The Mail Hall of Toko Temple

Toko Temple was initiated by a Lord of Monar of the place. He was so impressed by the Zen master Gen'nou Genmyou who visited Sado in June 1382. So the temple enshrines Gen'nou Genmyou as the founder. The main object of worship 'Sho-Kanzeon-Bosatsu' was dedicated by the monk Gentatsu of Yanagawa where is currently part of Fukuoka Prefecture. That is a Buddhist statue of 1 meter (3.3ft) height, which is not shown to public. The main hall was built in 1697, which is the third one. Many items of religious rituals remain inside the hall. There is Rakan Hall in the temple compound, which enshrines Sixteen Rakans and Ten kings. Also in the area, there are three natural rock mounds. They look actually funny but each enshrines three major guardian deities; Yuya (Kumano) , Inari, and Kompira Gongens4).

Photo57.4 The 80th Temple of 88-pilgrimage on Sado, Toko Temple

Toko Temple is the eightieth temple of the so-called "Sado 88-pilgrimage" 5).