Temple 26, Kongōchōji

第26番札所 龍頭山 光明院 金剛頂寺
【History of the temple】
When you head northwest along the coast from Cape Muroto, you will find a small cape jutting out into Tosa Bay. This cape is called Cape Gyodo (Performance Cape). The area is also known as Suzuriga Ura (Inkstone Bay) because it produces inkstones. On a hill above the cape is Kongōchōji, whose precincts are covered with primitive forest which gives a feeling of serenity. As one of the three temples in Muroto, it is also known as Nishidera (West Temple), and the temple stamp includes this name. There is a Fudodo (Fudo Hall) called Jonindo (Women's Hall) four kilometers from the temple. This is a sacred site where young Kobo Daishi performed Buddhist rituals. He made a daily pilgrimage between Kongōchōji and the Jonindo. The name Cape Gyodo may hold the memory of this.

According to legend, Kobo Daishi carved the principal image of Yakushi Nyorai (Medicine Buddha) and built the temple in 807 by order of Emperor Heijo (reigned 806-809). At the time of its construction, the temple was called Kongojoji. Women were barred from entering the temple. They worshiped at the Fudodo at nearby Cape Gyodo.

The next emperor, Emperor Saga (reigned 809-823), dedicated an imperial tablet to the temple and renamed it Kongōchōji, which is still used today as the temple’s institutional name. The following emperor, Emperor Junna (reigned 823-33), also designated Kongōchōji as an imperial temple. For ten generations, the temple priests were appointed by imperial order, and the temple continued to flourish for 16 generations.

During the Muromachi period (1336-1573), the buildings were damaged by fire, but they were quickly restored. The temple flourished through the donation of land from Motochika Chosokabe and its designation as a temple of the lords of Tosa (Kochi) in the Edo period (1603-1868). In the Showa era (1926-1989), the Reihoden, a Shosoin-style hall of treasures, was constructed. The Kondo Tabidangu (a set of gilt-bronze traveling tools) that used to belong to Kobo Daishi, the only such relics in Japan, are also housed in Reihoden, along with many other important cultural properties.

This Treasure House holds a seated wooden statue of Amida Nyorai, carved wood panels of the eight patriarchs of Shingon, a standing bronze statue of Kannon Bosatsu, gilt-bronze esoteric Buddhist ritual implements, gilt-bronze traveling tools, bronze bells, and a copy of the Kongocho Sutra, all of which are National Important Cultural Properties.
・Chiko Shonin Gobyo (mausoleum of Chikou Shonin)
According to legend, there have been two saints hidden from the world. One was Daitoku Kenne of Muroji in Yamato, and the other was Chiko Shonin of Kongōchōji, the son of the founder of Kongōchōji. Kenne is praised as a person of wisdom, while Chiko is praised as a saint of action. Chiko Shonin spent his life in the Dharma Cave and practiced asceticism in the mountains. When he learned that Kobo Daishi had entered meditation at Koyasan on March 21, 835, he came and did the same here on April 21 of the same year in adoration of Kobo Daishi.

・Kujira Kuyoto (Whale Memorial Pagoda, also known as Whale Temple)
・Hitotsubu Manbai no Kama -- This pot is said to have saved people from starvation by multiplying by 10,000 the amount of rice that Kobo Daishi had cooked in it.

【Annual Events】
・Opening of the statue of Kobo Daishi: March 21 of the lunar calendar at the Daishido
・Opening of the principal image of Yakushi Nyorai: December 31 - January 8 at the Hondo
Address 〒781-7108 高知県室戸市元乙523
Telephone Number 0887-23-0026
DirectionsFrom the Nankoku Interchange, take National Route 32, then National Route 55 in the direction of Muroto. Turn left at the Moto-bashi bus stop and follow the road for about two kilometers. The temple is to the right.
Parking20 cars, 3 microbuses, 3 buses : from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
20 cars (200 yen), 3 microbuses (400 yen), 3 buses (1,000 yen)
RemarksLodging: Available (100 people)