Temple 55, Nankōbō

第55番札所 別宮山 金剛院 南光坊
【History of the temple】
Among the Shikoku pilgrimage temples, Nankobo is the only temple with bo in its name, meaning priest’s lodging. Officially, it is called Kōmyōji Kongōin Nankōbō. It is in the center of Imabari City. It has an ancient origin and is deeply connected with the Oyamazumi Shrine, which is dedicated to the god of navigation and is the Ichinomiya (Prefectural Shrine) of Iyo (Ehime).

The shrine was built by imperial order in 594 on Omishima. In 703 Ochi Tamasumi, by order of Emperor Monmu, who was worried that the shrine's rituals were neglected due to wind and waves, moved the temple to this location and gave it the name of Jigozen of Mishima. Later Kobo Daishi visited the temple and designated it as the 55th temple of the Shikoku Pilgrimage.

The entire temple was destroyed during the Tensho period (1573-1592) by a fire that raged throughout Iyo (Ehime), but only Nankōbo was rebuilt to maintain the worship that had been conducted at the shrine. The Yakushido was rebuilt in 1600 as a prayer hall for Lord Todo Takatora. During the Edo period (1603-1868), this became a prayer hall for Lord Hisamatsu, a feudal lord, who made ritual offerings.

In 1868 the temple was completely separated from the Bekku Oyamazumi Shrine by the edicts ordering the separation of Shinto and Buddhism. A statue of Daitsuchisho Nyorai (a Buddha of the past) stands between statues of Miroku Bosatsu (Maitreya) and Kannon Bosatsu (The Bodhisattva Who Observes the Sounds of the World) in the Nankobo Yakushido (Yakushi Hall). They had originally been at the shrine.

In August 1945, at the end of World War II, all the buildings except the Daishido and the Kompirado were destroyed in air raids. The current Hondo was rebuilt in the fall of 1981, the Yakushido in the spring of 1991, and the gate in 1998.

・Daitsuchisho Nyorai
This is the Buddha described in the seventh chapter of the Lotus Sutra. He was worshipped by the Kono Suigun (the navy of the former Kono clan of Iyo).
・Sugegasa of Kawamura Kizan
Kawamura Kizan was the first calligrapher to receive the Japan Art Academy Prize. In 1954, while on a pilgrimage with his daughter, Kizan met the head priest of Nankōbō. When the head priest saw Kizan’s sugagasa (straw hat), he was amazed at the mastery of the calligraphy. In response to the head priest's request, Kizan donated the hat to the temple.
This hall enshrines Kompira Daigongen, whose main site of worship is the Kompira Shrine in Sanuki (Kagawa).

【Annual Events】
・Shuseikai: January 1 - 3
・Gohonzon Okuchiake: January 9
・Kyu Sho Mieiku (March Memorial Service for Kobo Daishi): March 21, lunar calendar
・Konpira Daigongen Daihannya Tenndoku (Service of Chanting Wisdom sutras): Lunar calendar June 10
・Shimotsuki Taishi Mieiku (December Memorial Service for Kobo Daishi): December 21
Address 愛媛県今治市別宮町3丁目1番地
Telephone Number 0898-22-2916
DirectionsFrom the Imabari Interchange, turn left at the Katayama intersection on Route 196 and go straight toward Imabari City. Turn left in front of Imabari Daimaru. The temple is about 500 meters ahead on the left.