About Kobo Daishi
The revered and principal object of worship at this temple is the image of Buddhist priest Kukai, also well known by his posthumous name, Kobo Daishi, which means "the great master who spread the Buddhist teachings." During the Heian era Kobo Daishi introduced Shingon Buddhism to Japan, and is still considered the founder of these teachings in Japan.
Kobo Daishi was born in 774 A.D. in Sanuki. He went to the capital to enter college at the age of eighteen, where, in order to become a government bureaucrat, he studied Confucian classics, as well as Chinese literature and history. Suddenly, however, Kobo Daishi dropped out of college and became a Buddhist monk.
One day Kobo Daishi came across the Mahavairocana sutra, a very important scripture in Shingon Buddhism.
No one was able to thoroughly explain the meaning of this sutra to him, and to try to understand it by oneself is very difficult, so in 804 A.D. Kobo Daishi decided to go to China and find the great master of Shingon Buddhism. There he met Huiguo, who taught Kobo Daishi the doctrines and rituals of Shingon Buddhism. From Huiguo, Kobo Daishi became the successor to Shingon Buddhism. In 806 A.D. Kobo Daishi returned to Japan, where he spread the Shingon teachings until his life came to an end in 835 A.D.
All during his life, with an unstinting self-sacrificial effort, he strived for peace and tranquility and aided his countrymen. He has left numerous marks on various aspects of the peoples' lives. Therefore, he is respected and esteemed by the Japanese people as the mother of Japanese Buddhism.
Up to the present, his influence is felt as the foundation for our everyday life and thoughts. We esteem and adore him.
The teachings of the Holy Daishi preach that each person will be released from secular illusions and have his "mind's eye" opened. He then will be an "awakened person" to the actualities of life. He will then become a Buddha with his present body.
Daishi, in the sacred teachings, declares:
"By Buddha's power I will protect and never abandon the future generations of believers who worship me with offerings to my image and learn me teachings."
When chanting "Kobo Daishi, Namu Daishi Henjo Kongo (we rely upon our Great Master who is shining upon us like a diamond)", by God's merciful grace a strong feeling of belief is kindled in our hearts. We are then aware of and wish to follow the correct path in our lives. Our desire to put into practice the teaching of Daishi leads us to the perfection of ourselves and the building of society. By devotion to such ideals then we became no less than a Buddha himself in our everyday life.
A Brief History of Kawasaki Daishi
More than 880 years ago, during the reign of Emperor Sutoku, there lived a samurai named Hirama Kanenori. Due to a false accusation he was exiled from his birthplace, Owari, and after having wandered through many provinces, Kanenori finally settled in Kawasaki. Here, he made a humble living as a fisherman.
Kanenori was deeply devoted to the teachings of Buddhism, especially worshipping Kobo Daishi. At the time, he was 42 years old, an age considered to be climacteric for men. He reflected on his unfortunate fate and constantly supplicated for the ousting of evil.
One night a great priest appeared in Kanenori's dream. "While living in China, I carved my image and subsequently cast it into the sea. You must go quickly and use your net to retrieve it. Give offerings of food, incense, flowers and so forth, thereby bringing blessings to the people. Your calamities will change to happiness and prosperity. Your numerous reuests will be fulfilled," declared the great priest. So, Kanenori went out to sea, and at an especially glittering spot on the water he threw his net. When he pulled up the net, it contained a wooden statue of the revered figure of Kobo Daishi. At the time, there lived a Buddhist priest Sonken who spread the Buddhist teachings throughout the provinces of Wakayama Prefecture. One day he by chance stopped at the place of Kanenori, where he saw the figure of Kobo Daishi. He was moved to tears by the noble statue and extraordinary qualities that were attributed to it.
In the third year of the Daiji reign (1128), Buddhist priest Sonken and Kanenori began constructing a temple, which was the start of the present day Kawasaki Daishi Heikenji Temple, Grand Head Temple of the Chisan Sect of the Shingon Buddhism. It is the center of worship for devoted followers and spreading the teachings of Kobo Daishi.
A view of old Kawasaki Daishi Temple
taken from Edomeishozue, 1892