Temple 79, Tennōji

天皇寺
【History of the temple】
During the Tempyo period (729-749), Gyoki visited this area on a pilgrimage to Shikoku. There is a mountain that produces a lot of ore here. Gyoki named this mountain Kanayama because he believed the deities Kanayama Bime and Kanayama Hiko lived here. He built the Kanayama Manishuin Temple with a principal image of Yakushi Nyorai (Medicine Buddha) in the middle of the mountain, indicating that this area was a place of syncretism between Shintoism and Buddhism.

During the Kōnin era (810-824), Kukai/Kobo Daishi came here, moved the decayed Kanayama Manishuin to its present location, and changed the name to Kinkazan Myōjōjuzi Manishuin. What motivated Kukai was his encounter with Kanayama Gongen, the protector of the sacred mountain of Kanayama, and the divine water that gushes from the hillside of Kanayama. Convinced that it was possible to revive all things, Kukai carved the Juichimen Kannon Bosatsu (Eleven-faced Bodhisattva Who Hears the Sounds of the World), the Amida Nyorai (Buddha of Limitless Light and Life), and the Aizenmyōō (Love-dyed Wisdom King), and enshrined them in the temple.

During the Hogen Rebellion (a civil war in Kyoto in 1156), the Emperor Sutoku came here and saw the statue of Amida Nyorai carved by Kobo Daishi. As a result, he decided to live here. After his death, the temple had a memorial service for for the emperor and a shrine dedicated to him was constructed on the temple grounds. Emperor Gosaga made an imperial decree that memorial services for Emperor Sutoku should be performed here forever. This is why the temple is called the Temple of Memorial Services for Emperor Sutoku and the Temple of Emperor Sutoku. In the Meiji era (1868-1912), when temples were abolished due to the governmental movement to abolish Buddhism, the present Kinkazan Kōshoin Tennōji was established through the efforts of the head priests of branch temples and others.

【Highlights】
・Miwa Torii
A vermilion-colored torii gate stands tall in the precincts of Tennōji. This is the Miwa Torii, which is the same type of gateway as that of the Ogami Shrine in Nara Prefecture. It signifies that the precincts of the temple are sacred to Miwa Shinto, which is derived from Ryobu Shinto. To the left of the torii gate is a Gejoishi stone donated by Minamoto no Yoritomo. The Emperor Sutoku Shrine (now called the Shirominegu Shrine) is located in front of the temple.
・Hondo
The principal image of Juichimen Kannon Bosatsu is related to two teachings intended to save the mankind, a teaching of the Diamond Realm and a teaching of the Womb Realm. It is customary to pray at both the front and the back of the Hondo, the front representing the Diamond Realm teaching and the back representing the Womb Realm teaching.
・Daishido
A statue of Yakushi Nyorai, the principal image of a branch temple that made tremendous efforts to reestablish Tennōji, is displayed in front of the Daishido.

【Others】
・Fudo no Taki (Waterfall of the Immovable Wisdom King)
・Teachings of the Womb Realm
Address 〒762-0021 香川県坂出市西庄町1713
Telephone Number 0877-46-3508
DirectionsFrom the Sakaide Kita Interchange, head east on Prefectural Route 33, go past JR Yasoba Station, and turn right at the signposted Nishinosho Town intersection.
Parking Available (Only regular vehicles are allowed on the premises. Microbuses and large buses must use Prefectural Route 33)