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Inariyama Komyoin

This entry is in the series Along the Tama
Today, I chanced upon this odd temple in Noborito when I got lost on the bicycle. Its gaudy colours and lavish ornaments made me turn around on the spot to take a closer look. I assumed it was a new structure that belonged to some obscure sect, but Inariyama Kōmyō-in turned out to be a branch temple of the venerable Ōzenji Temple (王禅寺) in Asao-ku, Kawasaki.


Inariyama Kōmyō-in (稲荷山光明院) belongs to the Toyoyama School of Shingon Buddhism. The temple was destroyed by fire several times during the Edo Period (1603-1868), so no temple records exist. However, according to temple tradition, it was founded in the late Muromachi Period (1336-1573) by the priest Genku (法印).


The principal image is a wooden statue of Fudō Myōō (Acala) and his two servants (a triad called 不動三尊 Fudō Sanzon), with a flaming halo on his back, a hōken (宝剣, sword) in his right hand, a snare in his left, and two children called Kongara (矜羯羅) and Seitaka (制多迦) standing on either side. It is designated an important historical monument of Kawasaki City.


Photo: Kawasaki City

In esoteric Buddhism, Fudō Myōō is the terrifying incarnation of Dainichi Nyorai subduing evil and is usually represented with an irate expression on his face. The three statues are small (less than 20 centimetres), but the inscription in ink on the back of the halo indicates that they were made in 1553 by a monk named Hōgyoku (宝玉), who lived in Noborito, on the 33rd anniversary of his parent's death. Notes on the back of the pedestal indicate that it was repaired in 1844. The present pedestal and colours are thought to be from that period.

The white elephants at the inner side of the Sanmon seem to represent an incarnation of Gautama Buddha before he was born to Queen Maya. I have never seen them in other Japanese temples.

Address: 1253 Noborito, Tama Ward, Kawasaki, Kanagawa 214-0014, phone: 044-911-29-46


Next entry in the series 'Along the Tama': Aso Bicycle Shrine
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〒214-0014 神奈川県川崎市多摩区登戸1253

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