Temple 80, Kokubunji

第80番札所 白牛山 千手院 国分寺
【History of the temple】
Kokubunji preserves some of the original features from when it was founded in the Nara period (710-794). It is the only Shikoku Pilgrimage temple where the entire area of the original precincts is designated as a Special National Historic Site. The Hondo was rebuilt in the middle of the Kamakura period (1185-1333), with pierced wooden doors on the front and back. In the center of the temple grounds, 33 foundation stones of the original Hondo are visible, showing that it was as large as the current Kondo of Toshodaiji Temple in Nara. The foundation stones of the seven-storied pagoda are to the right of the temple gate. If the pagoda had survived, it would be larger than the five-storied pagoda of Toji Temple in Kyoto.

The temple was founded during the reign of Emperor Shomu (724-749). It was founded by Gyoki, by imperial order, as the prefectural temple of Sanuki (Kagawa). During the Konin era (810-823), Kobo Daishi repaired the principal image of Senju Kannon (Thousand-armed Bodhisattva Who Hears the Sounds of the World) and designated the temple as a pilgrimage temple, but most of the buildings were destroyed by fire during the Tensho era (1573-1592). There is a record that the temple was a branch of Saidaiji Temple during the Kamakura period (1185-1333). When the present Hondo was built at that time, it received the patronage of the Ikoma and Matsudaira lords of Takamatsu.

The temple is also famous for having the oldest bell in Shikoku. There is a legend that a giant snake had worn the bell. Then Ikoma Kazumasa, a feudal lord in the early Edo period (1603-1868), acquired the bell in exchange for a large area of rice paddies, intending to use it as the bell of Takamatsu Castle. However, it took an unusually large number of men and horses to transport the bell to the castle, and when they arrived at the castle, it did not ring. Then a serious disease broke out in the castle, causing Lord Ichimasa fall ill. The bell appeared every night at the bedside of the sick lord, crying and saying, “I want to go back to Kokubunji.” In the end, the bell was returned to Kokubunji. Unlike when the bell had been carried to the castle, this time it was easily carried by just a few people.

【Highlights】
・Hondo
The Hondo was reconstructed during the Kamakura period (1185-1333) on the site of the old Kodo (Lecture Hall) and is a National Important Cultural Property. The principal image is made of a single zelkova tree. It is only open to the public once every 60 years. The next opportunity will be in 2040.
・Temple Bell
This is the oldest bell in Shikoku. It dates from the time of the temple's founding. There are many interesting legends regarding the bell.

【Others】
・Cornerstone - A foundation stone from the Nara period still remains.
・Ruins of the Kondo and the seven-storied pagoda. A large black pine tree stands in the spacious precincts.
・Daishido The statue of Kobo Daishi is open to view.
・Benzaiten Kokubunji enshrines Benzaiten, the only female among the Sanuki Seven Gods of Good Fortune.

【Annual Events】
・Mizuko Sokuyo Daihoyo Shugyo (Memorial Service for babies): 1st Sunday in June from 2:00 p.m.
Address 〒769-0102 香川県高松市国分寺町国分2065番地
Telephone Number 087-874-0033
DirectionsOn foot: Four-minute walk from JR Kokubu Station. Kokubu Station is about 14 minutes by train from Sakaide Station.
By car: 9 minutes from Fuchuko IC / 12 minutes from Takamatsu Danshi IC
By Expressway Bus: An expressway bus (called the Foot Bus) is available from the Kansai area (12 minute walk from the Kokubunji Terminal)
By Airplane: 30 minutes from Takamatsu Airport by car
By Shinkansen: Transfer to the Great Seto Bridge Train Line at Okayama. Get off at Sakaide Station. It is about 14 minutes by train from Sakaide Station to Kokubu Station, then a four-minute walk to the temple.
ParkingAvailable
free of charge, approx. 20 cars
Website Official website

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