Temple 44, Daihōji

第44番札所 菅生山 大覚院 大寶寺
【History of the temple】
The distance from Temple 43, Meisekiji is about 80 km, 20 hours on foot. Part of this is known as henro korogashi, which means pilgrims tumbling down. This refers to steep sections where it is easy to slip and fall. Daihōji is also called Nakafudasho (Middle Temple) as it is a halfway point in the Shikoku Pilgrimage – 44 temples visited, 44 to go. Surrounded by the Shikoku Mountains at an elevation of 579 meters, the temple grounds are shaded by old forest trees. The atmosphere is serene.

The temple's history dates back to the time of the Yamato Imperial Court, from the 4th century to the mid-7th century. A holy monk from Kudara (Korea) brought a statue of the Juichimen Kannon Bosatsu (Eleven-faced Bodhisattva Who Hears the Sounds of the World) and enshrined it in this mountain. In 701 two hunters from Aki (Hiroshima), the brothers Myojin Ukyo and Myojin Hayato, found a statue of Juichimen Kannon Bosatsu in the grass and built a hermitage for the worship of Kannon. Emperor Monmu (reigned 697-707) heard about this and immediately issued an imperial command to build a temple. He named the temple Daihōji after the Japanese era, which was also called Daihōji. Kobo Daishi visited the temple about 120 years later, in 822. He performed esoteric Buddhist rituals and designated the temple as the halfway point of the Shikoku Pilgrimage. He also changed the sect of the temple from the Tendai sect of Buddhism to the Shingon sect.

In 1152 a forest fire swept over the mountain and the temple was destroyed. However, soon after, during the Hogen era (1156-1159), Emperor Go-Shirakawa (reigned 1155-1158) prayed to be healed of an illness. When he recovered, he ordered that the temple be rebuilt and appointed his sister as the head priest, making it an imperial temple. The temple was given an imperial tablet called Sugōzan. Seven major buildings were constructed. At its peak, there were 48 monk’s cells on the mountain.

The temple was again destroyed by fire in the Tensho era (1573-1592). It was restored with donations from the lords of the Matsuyama domain and, in the mid-Edo period (1603-1868), it became a place of prayer for the Matsudaira family. However, it was burnt down again in 1874. It was destined to struggle against fire.

・Horidashi Kannon Bosatsu
This gilt bronze statue of Kannon Bosatsu was dug out from the mountain at Daihōji in 1934. The statue was found at the base of a tree which was believed to be over 1,000 years old. It was covered with approximately 130 stones on which the Lotus Sutra was written, one letter per stone. According to an appraisal by the Kyoto National Museum, the statue probably dates from the late Heian period (794-1185) or the early Kamakura period (1185-1333). It is believed to represent a Buddha who is able to exorcise illnesses and evil spirits from the body. Image 1

・Ryo Gongen
The sister of Emperor Go-Shirakawa is enshrined here as Ryo Gongen. When Emperor Go-Shirakawa became ill with a brain disease during the Hogen period (1156-58), an imperial envoy came here and prayed for his recovery. When his prayers were accomplished, the emperor donated a large sum of money which was used to build 48 monasteries and shrines on Sugo Mountain. The emperor's younger sister came to the temple to serve as the head priest. After her death, a mausoleum and a five-storied pagoda were built and she was enshrined as Ryo Gongen. The remains of the mausoleum and imperial envoy bridge still exist today. In addition, an imperial inscription of Sugōzan in the handwriting of Emperor Go-Shirakawa is held by the temple.

・Kumayama Peasant Revolt
・Basho Mound (erected on the occasion of the 33rd anniversary of Basho's death)
Address 〒791-1205 愛媛県上浮穴郡久万高原町菅生1173-2
Telephone Number 0892-21-0044
DirectionsDriving directions: From the Matsuyama Interchange, take Route 33 toward Kuma. At the traffic light after the Kuma Police Station, turn left onto Prefectural Route 12. Turn right in front of Kuma Park and after the Kuma Art Museum, turn left.
free of charge
RemarksLodging: Available (150 people, reservation required)