Kimpo Shrine

Kimpo Shrine

Classification: National historical site

Date registered: July 23, 2009

Kimpo Shrine is located in Kotaki village, which is the starting point of the spiritual trail to Mount Chōkai.

The village offered a religious hospice, the only one in Akita, and mountain ascetics (shugenja) in the village took care of worshippers and guided them to the sacred mountain.

According to the record of the shrine, Kimpo Shrine was founded in 680 for two deities: Zao Gongen (or Kongo Zao Gongen, the manifestation of buddha that is worshiped by shugenja throughout Japan) and Chokaisan Dai Gongen (a manifestation of buddha on Mount Chōkai).

The long history of the shrine as the holy ground for the faith of Mount Chōkai is eloquently represented by cultural treasures such as the wooden statue of Zao Gongen’s triple incarnation, enshrined by En-no-Ozunu (634–701), and the 3.6-meter-high wooden statue of Guanyin carved by Jikaku Daishi (or Ennin, 793–864, one of the highest priests of the Tendai School of Japanese Buddhism). They are both designated as tangible cultural property by Akita Prefecture.

Other relics include the old stone-paved pathway that is said to have been laid by Jikaku Daishi, a board monument from 1322, a statue of Shoumen-Kongou (a fierce god) made in 1764, and a memorial monument to the Saigoku-Sanjusansho pilgrimage of 1731.

The influence of ascetism led to the development of a rich culture. Unique Shinto rituals and folk entertainments are passed on to the next generations: the Itsuka-do Chinka ceremony (a ritual to pray for the prevention of fire) on January 5th, the Nanoka-do ceremony and Kinen ceremony (a ritual to pray for a good harvest) on January 7th, the annual ritual on the second Saturday of June, and the worshipping visits to Mount Chōkai on August 1st. At the annual ritual in June, the “Kotaki Choukurairo Dance (a dance praying for a long life),” a nationally important intangible cultural property, is presented on a soil stage.

by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology

(Nikaho City responsible for its maintenance.)


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