Takahata Fudōson (高幡不動尊), formally known as Takahatasan Myōōin Kongōji (高幡山明王院金剛寺), is a head temple of the Chisan-ha (智山派) sect of Shingon Buddhism, located in Hino, western Tōkyō. It is one of the oldest temples in Tōkyō and one of the three biggest dedicated to Fudō Myōō (不動明王) in the Kantō region. Fudō (Sanskrit: Acala), the destroyer of evil, is one of the Five Wisdom Kings and the first among the Thirteen Buddhas (十三仏 Jūsanbutsu) in Japanese Buddhism.

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History:


According to Kongōji's records, the first temple was set up at the same location just before the Taihō Period (大宝, 701-704) to protect the eastern borders (東関 Higashiseki) of the Yamato state, but it was in the 9th century that Emperor Seiwa (清和天皇, 850-881) ordered the monk Ennin (圓仁 or 円仁, 793/94-864), also known by his posthumous name, Jikaku Daishi (慈覺大師), to build a temple on Mount Takahata and enshrine Fudō Myōō. In the summer of 1335, a severe storm demolished the temple. In 1342, abbot Gikai Shōnin moved the Kongōji to the foot of the mountain and built the Fudō-dō, the Hall of Fudō Myōō.

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The Five-story Pagoda (五重塔 Goju-no-tō) is 45 metres tall and is made of ferroconcrete.

Later, Niōmon Gate was added; both Fudō-dō and Niōmon Gate are Important Cultural Properties. During the Muromachi Period (1333-1573), Takahata Fudōson came to be known as “Asekaki Fudō (汗かき不動, "Perspiring Fudō"), gathering a following of Sengoku warlords and the Kantō Kubō. In the Edo Period (1603-1867), Kongōji was one of the eleven Darin temples in Kantō (関東十一檀林), special institutions where monks received training. It gained fame for its prayer services for the protection from fire.

At that time, Kongōji consisted of some thirty-six buildings and was one of the biggest temples in the Kantō region. In the conflagration of 1779, the Daini-dō Hall, the Daishi-dō Hall, the Sanmon Gate, the reception hall, the priests’ temple quarters, and many other structures were destroyed. Subsequently, over the centuries, the temple complex was reconstructed little by little. To this day, the Dainichi-dō Hall, the Hōrin Kaku, the Okuden, the Daishi-dō Hall, and the Seiten-dō Hall, have been restored to their former glory. The monumental statue of Jōroku Fudōsanson (丈六不動三尊), a National Treasure weighing in at over 1,100 kilogrammes, was also refurbished and enshrined in the Okuden Hall.

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The statue of Jōroku Fudōsanson (丈六不動三尊) and his attendants (courtesy of Kongōji)

The triad of Fudō Myōō was created in the late Heian period. The attendant to the central statue’s right is Kongara-dōji (矜羯羅童子). He usually assumes the form of a fifteen-year-old juvenile with pale-coloured skin and a single-pronged vajra resting between the thumb and forefinger of each hand which are clasped together in front of his breast. To the left is Seitaka dōji (制た迦童子) who is also depicted as a juvenile with red skin, his hair tied in five knots, and holding a vajra in his left hand as well as a vajra club (金剛杵 kongōsho) in his right. Kongara and seitaka derive from the Sanskrit 'kimkara' and 'cetaka' and mean as much as "servant" or "attendant".

Fudō-dō (不動堂)

An inscription found on the back of the Honzon Fudō Myōō-zo Kohai (本尊不動明王像光背), the flame-shaped halo of the statue of Fudō Myōō, states that the Fudō-dō (不動堂) was originally located on Mount Takahata. When the hall was destroyed in a tempest and reconstructed in its present location in 1342, some of the original materials dating back to the Koei era (1342-45) were reused - or so the temple records claim. Nowadays, the hall serves the purpose of Goma training.

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Fudō-dō (不動堂)

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Statue of Kūkai (Kōbō Daishi)

Niōmon (仁王門)

The Niōmon and its two statues were constructed in the late Muromachi period. In the Edo period, the gate had only one storey. When the Niōmon was renovated in 1959 the original second storey and a copper roof was added. Niōmon gates are guarded by two wooden warriors called Niō (仁王, lit. "Two Kings").

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Naraen Kongō (那羅延金剛, the statue on the right side of the gate, has his mouth open to utter the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet, which is pronounced "a".

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Misshaku Kongō (密迹金剛), on the left side of the gate, has his mouth closed, representing the last letter of the Sanskrit alphabet, pronounced "um". These two letters (a-un in Japanese) together symbolize the birth and death of all things.

Okuden (奥殿)

The Okuden houses the triad of Fudō Myōō and exhibits cultural and religious artefacts of great interest. Sadly, all the exhibits are described in Japanese only, including the main statue.

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Sage Vinayaka Hall (聖天堂)

The Seiten-dō (聖天堂) burned down in the fire of 1779 and was rebuilt in 2009. Worshippers pray for good luck and finding their right match.

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Daishi-dō Hall (大師堂)

Just like the Seiten-dō, Daishi-dō was reconstructed in 2009.

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Benten-dō (弁天堂)

Benten-dō is a small vermillion-lacquered shrine on an island in the Benten pond enshrining the goddess Benzaiten.

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Kongōji was the family temple of Hijikata Toshizō (土方 歳三, 1835-1869), a vice-commander of the Shinsengumi who hailed from Hino. Hijikata resisted the Meiji Restoration and died in the final days of the Boshin War. The temple has two memorial slabs for Hijikata and his comrade-in-arms Kondō Isami (近藤 勇, 1834-1868) as well as Hijikata's statue.

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The temple is also famous for its hydrangea garden.

More photos in the Takahata Fudōson Kongōji Temple album.

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Access: a 2-minute walk from Takahata-Fudō Station on Keio Line, or Dobutsu-en Line, via Tama Monorail. Takahata-Fudō Station can be reached from Shinjuku Station in around 30 minutes.
Address: 733 Takahata, Hino-shi, Tokyo / 東京都日野市高幡733; phone: 042-591-0032; fax: 042-593-3038
Admission: open daily 09:00-17:00; admission free; Okuden: 300 JPY, open daily 09:00-16:00, closed on Mondays.