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Seisui Temple

How to get

Get off #2 bus (Minami-sen) at "Komponji Mae" bus stop. Walk a little to the direction of Niibo town. Then there is T-intersection which is slightly skewed. Turn that intersection so that you walk on the leg of T towards Kosado Mountain. Actually it is a long walk from there to the Temple. You will find another Hiyoshi Shrine on the way, and then go through the intersection with the road to the Hall of Righteous Men of Sado. Go straight that intersection. As you go forward, the open place gradually becomes a valley like terrain. When the road curves right and Cedar trees surround you, you will see Nioh gate of Seisui Temple on right hand side.

Photo.65.1 The Corner to Turn from Bus Route to Seisui Temple

Seisui Temple is of Buzan sect of Shingon-shu (Shingon Buddhism)1). Tradition says that the monk "Kempou2) (Ken’ou3)?)" came from Kyoto to Sado for propagation of Buddhism in 808. He felt sorry for people in Sado because they could not worship Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto. Kyoto is too far and it is difficult for them to go beyond the sea. Therefore he constructed Seisui Temple on Sado, which could resemble Kiyomizu Temple4). Interestingly enough, Kiyomizu temple and Seisui Temple use the same Chinese characters "Clear"for "清" and "Water" for "水". Kiyomizu comes from Japanese pronunciation and Seisui comes from old Chinese pronunciation of "clear water".

Kiyomizu temple in Kyoto has the stage that is supported by timber beams and columns. Seisui temple also has a wooden stage as part of Kyusei-den of Kan’on-do. The stage was built in 1622. As shown by Photo.65.2, the inside of the stage becomes old and decays. Supporting columns and beams seem to have been replaced recent year. The main object of worship is Kanzeon-Bosatsu with 11 faces and one thousand hands. It is said that the statue was carved by Gyogi (668-749) and put in the Kyusei-den5), but it is not for sure.

Photo.65.2 Kyuseiden Stage of Seisui Temple

There are a lot of Shingon-shu temples in Sado. Higher percentage of Shingon Temples in Sado may indicate the old history of this island, probably. Shingon-shu of Japanese Buddhism was started by Koubou Daishi Kuukai (774 - 835). The object of worship is Dainichi-Nyorai. Actually it is difficult to understand the doctrine of Shingon-shu. A book tells that Kuukai’s teaching is that a believer could get a state of attainment of Buddhahood by unification with Dainichi Nyorai through praying practice6). However, this kind of simplified definition does not tell anything. There may be a several reasons for the difficulty7); 1) Singon-shu is Buddhism that is older than so-called Kamakura New Buddhism, 2) It is influenced by Esoteric Buddhism. Kuukai thought that the practical learning and implementation were indispensable, therefore, what was written was useless8). Kuukai’s Shingon Buddhism doctrine was systematically so well completed that the evolution of Shingon-shu after Kuukai had not been made much except the work by Kakuban (1095-1143)9).

Kuukai was born in 774. Birthplace was in Tadonoko’ori, Sanuki where is currently Zentsuji City, Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku Island. He went to Kyoto at age of 15 and enrolled the university at 18. Then he got out of Kyoto, went to Shikoku, and devoted to ascetic practices. So it is not clear what he had been in his twentieth. On May 12th in 804, he got on a ship at Naniwa of Osaka bay area. The group of four ships left Kyushu on July 6th for China. Those ships got a bad weather on the way; one ship disappeared, one returned, only two ships could get to China. It should be noted that Saicho, another superstar of Japanese Buddhism, was onboard on one of two ships that could reach China. Saicho and Kuukai were on different ships.

Kuukai’s ship got ashore at Haikou that was southern part of Chian village, Changxi County, in Fuzhou Province on August 10th and arrived at Fuzhou on Octorber 3, 804. He arrived at the International city at the time, Chang’an (Xi’an) on December 23, 804. In May 805, Kuukai met Keika at Seiryu Temple. Keika taught esoteric Buddhism to Kuukai and died in December. 20 years was Kuukai’s initial plan to study in China, however, teacher’s death made him decide to return to Japan much earlier. Kuukai got back Japan, probably September or October in 806. He had stayed in Dazaifu, Kyushu for a while before he eventually got back to Kyoto.

What Kuukai had done afterwards was too many to write here. He initiated Shingon-Buddhism, established the Koyasan, and conducted charitable works like the construction of reservoir and opening a school for ordinary children. He died on March 21, 83510).

The most famous pilgrimage in Japan is "Shikoku 88- pilgrimage" or "Shikoku Henro". On the island of Shikoku, where Kuukai devoted to ascetic practices in his youth. After he returned from China, he visited Shikoku again in 815 and chose 88 holly temples. Shikoku Henro is the Pilgrimage to visit those places. Along the route, total distance is 1,400 kilometer (870miles) 11). Many Japanese, wearing white clothes, do this practice.

Likened to Shikoku 88-pilgrimage, many pilgrimages in smaller scale are also being done in many part of Japan. Also in Sado, there is a pilgrimage course to visit 88-temples. Seisui Temple is the Fifty Eighth temple of "Sado 88-pilgrimage" 12).

Photo.65.3 Inside of the Kyuseiden Stage