Temple 61, Kōonji

第61番札所 栴檀山 教王院 香園寺
【History of the temple】
Kōonji is one of the oldest temples of the Shikoku Pilgrimage. It was founded by Shotoku Taishi (574-622). In contrast to this ancient origin, it has a modern style main building that serves as both the Hondo and the Daishido. The Koyasuko Circle, a voluntary organization of followers associated with the temple, has spread overseas and now has more than 20,000 members.

According to legend, the temple was built by Prince Shotoku Taishi to pray for the recovery from illness of Emperor Yomei (reigned 585-587). It is also said that at this time a white-haired old man in a gold robe flew in front of the prince, who then enshrined a statue of Dainichi Nyorai (Mahāvairocana) as the principle image of the temple. The emperor bestowed upon the temple the imperial title of Kyōōin. Gyoki (668-749) visited the temple during the Tempyo period (729-749).

Kobo Daishi visited the temple during the Daido period (806-810). One day there was a pregnant woman in pain in front of the temple gate. Kobo Daishi burned incense and prayed for the woman, and she gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Kobo Daishi then took a small gold statue of Dainichi Nyorai that he had brought back from Tang China and enshrined it as the principal image of the temple. He burned incense again and performed a goma ritual (a fire offering ceremony) to pray for safe delivery, child rearing, and for the woman to become a Buddha. The temple was then designated as a pilgrimage temple. The mountain name of Kōonji (temples are metaphorically called mountains), Sendansan (Sandalwood Mountain), comes from this story.

The temple flourished as a place of worship for safe childbirth and child rearing. Seven major temple buildings and six monk’s cells were built, but they were destroyed by fire during the Tensho era (1868-1912). In 1914 the head priest, Yamaoka Zuien, rebuilt the Hondo. In 1918 he founded the Koyasu-ko, a children's prayer group. He traveled not only throughout Japan but also to Southeast Asia and the U.S. to expand the number of members and to promote the temple's prosperity.

・Main Building
The main building dates from 1976. It is a brown reinforced concrete structure, 16 meters high, with a large lecture hall on the first floor and the Hondo and Daishido on the second floor. The Hondo has more than 620 seats.
・Koyasu Kobo Daishi
This statue is located to the right-front of the main building. Kobo Daishi is depicted with a mat on his back, a staff in his right hand, and a baby in his left hand.
・Koyasu Junior High School
The predecessor of today's Komatsu Prefectural High School, it was founded by the temple in 1940 and is devoted to academic education.

【Annual Events】
・Hatsu Kitoe: December 31 - January 7
・Shotokue: February 22
・Hana Matsuri (Buddha’s Birthday): April 8
・Ennichi: April 20 and 21
・Birthday of the founder: June 15
・Jizo Bonne (Earth Treasury Bodhisattva Day): August 23
・Segakikai (Ritual for Restless Spirits): August 24
・Shuseie: December 31
・Kobo Daishi Tsuki Mieiku (Monthly Memorial Service of Kobo Daishi): 21st of every month
・Inner Temple, Fudodo Gomaku (Goma fire ritual): 28th of every month
Address 愛媛県西条市小松町南川甲19
Telephone Number 0898-72-3861
DirectionsFrom the Iyo-Komatsu Interchange, take Route 11 toward Saijo City, turn right at the Kaonji intersection, drive about 370 meters, then turn right. The temple is in front of you.
free of charge
Website Official website