Plan ahead well to visit this temple. One way is to get off #2 bus (Minami-sen) at "Hatano Juujiro" bus stop and to walk a long way to Chokoku Temple. Walking route is long but simple, start from the intersection of Hatano Juujiro towards the direction of Kosado Mountain. The other way is to get on a #14 bus (Iwakubi-sen) in the early afternoon and get off at "Hase" bus stop just in front of the Temple. The bus stop name "Hase" uses two Chinese characters "Long-Valley". Interestingly enough but it is confusing; the same Chinese characters "Long-Valley" are used for the temple name and pronounced as "Chou-Koku". Note that there are many buses on #2 Minami-sen, but only two buses a day on #14 Iwakubi-sen.
Photo.71.1 Ni-oh Gate of Chokoku Temple
Chokoku Temple is of Shingon-shu, Buzan sect. It has a long history over a millennium. On the record written in Houreki era (1751-1764), Youzen temple was at the top of the mountain and Choraku Temple was there during Tempo era (729-749), and Kobo-Daishi carved 11-face statues and opened the Chokoku Temple during Daido era (806-809). Now the three temples have become one Chokoku Temple1). The temple was designed and built so that could resemble Hase Temple in Hase, Nara Prefecture2). This is a branch temple of the Yamato-Hase temple that has network with 120 and plus temples all over Japan. Being semi-governmental, the network of Hase Temples had grown, while at the same time the system of Kokubun Temple weakened3). The main objects of worship are four Kan’non statues having eleven faces. Three were designated as the national cultural heritages 1906 and one is prefectural cultural heritage. Those statues are shown once in 33 years4).
Photo.71.2 Main Hall and Kuri of Chokoku Temple
Chokoku Temple is a beautiful place to visit. You will see a lot of miniature Buddhist statues, Gochi-do hall, three tall cedars, and seasonal flowers blooming in temple area. But there was a sad story of one priest who was beheaded in 1770. He was Henjo-bo Chisen, the priest in Henjo-in. The building of Henjo-in is still in the area of Chokoku Temple. He was accused of his leadership in the farmers' uprising in 1767 of Meiwa era.
Photo.71.3 Gochi-do Hall of Chokoku Temple
Farmers' uprising in Meiwa happened in 1767. Farmer' s demands were easing heavy burden of taxation and changing the administration system of the Sado magistrate's office. Samurai warrior government "Edo Bakufu" in Edo, then-Tokyo, brought the stronger administration system in 1753 to control the island more oppressively. Although the causes of uprising were said to be floods in 1766 and 17675)and damage on harvest by insects, actually the oppressive control was the biggest cause.
On November 4 and 5, 300 - 400 farmers gathered in Dansei Temple in Aikawa in order to destroy the office and administrators’ houses. But funny enough, the leaders of uprising did not appear there. Farmers broke up in the following day and the uprising was over6). Seven people including Chisen were arrested on November 27. Other six people were released, but Henjobo Chisen was the only one who was sentenced to death7). It is said that a white crane appeared on the casket of Chisen in the day of funeral8). As a result, Edo Bakufu changed the administration9). In order to pray repose of Chisen’s spirit, Sado people built stone towers "Kuyoutou" in many place in the island10).
Photo.71.4 Chokoku Temple
This is the Fifty fifth temple of the so-called "Sado 88-pilgrimage" 11). Also Chokoku Temple is the one with flowers. The temple’s pamphlet shows seasonal timing of the flowers12);