Shozenin Koganedo Temple, Mt. Haguro

AddressTsuruoka, Yamagata Prefecture Haguromachi town Toge Toge 231 characters
Contact+81 235-62-2746
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  • Important cultural properties
  • Designated a national treasure in 1929 and a national important cultural property in 1950.
    This Buddhist temple belongs to the Hagurosan Kotakuji Shozenin Temple and is the first of the 33 sacred Kannon pilgrimage sites in Shonai.
    In contrast to Daikondo Temple (“big gold temple”) on top of Mt. Haguro (formerly Jakko Temple, Mt. Haguro and currently Sanshin-Gosaidan, Mt. Haguro), this temple is Shokondo (“small gold temple”), but came to be called Koganedo Temple (“gold temple”) after the 33 statues of the goddess of mercy, Kannon that reflect a golden color.
    Although tradition says it was built in 728 by the order of the Emperor Shomu, very likely it was constructed in 1193 by Minamoto no Yoritomo who appointed Sanehira Doi to build it to pray for suppression of the Fujiwara Clan in Hiraizumi.
    Later, in 1593 the castle lord of Sakata, Kagetsugu Amakasu and Uesugi’s vassal, Naoe Kanetsugu conducted large-scale renovations over 3 years, resulting in the Koganedo Temple of today. Legend also says there is buried treasure within the temple grounds.
    A 5ken (1ken=1.8m; counter used to number the gaps between pillars), 4-sided, 1-story construction with copper roofing.
    Mt. Haguro did not escape efforts in the Meiji Period to eliminate Buddhist temples and statues as the result of an edict separating the Shinto and Buddhist religions. Koganedo Temple is one of 3 existing temples that survived during the destruction of the 10 large temples that formed Mt. Haguro at the height of its golden age. The proper name is Hagurosan Chojuji Kondo.
    There are Buddhist images enshrined within Koganedo Temple from various eras, such as the Heian, Kamakura, Muromachi, Azuchi-Momoyama, and Edo periods, as well as 2 pairs of kongo rikishi statues (one at the main temple gate created by Kouon in 1633 and one within the hall made by Zenkei in 1695), a Zenbutsu object of worship that was once housed in the Five-storied Pagoda on Mt. Haguro, and 33 life-sized statues of Sho Kanzeon Bosatsu (goddess of mercy)—a rarity even in Tohoku. In addition, the Dewa Honjibutsu (original Buddhist divinity; Kannon, Amitabha, and Dainichi) of the three mountains that were in the sanctuary at Daikondo Temple (formerly Jakko Temple, Mt. Haguro and currently Sanshin-Gosaidan, Mt. Haguro) on the top of Mt. Haguro can be worshipped at Otake Dainichido Hall located within the same grounds.