The History of Myohoji Temple

Myohoji of Tendai School of Buddhism is officially called Shoinzan Jissoin Myohoji. The temple is dedicated to Kongokai Dainichi Nyorai (Mahavairocana-tathagata of the Diamond Realm). The present head priest is the 19th Head Priest, Rev. Ooka Shinsho.

The temple attracts many visitors as it enshrines varieties of popular deities who give merits to worshippers. For example, the Daikokuten image, believed as the work of St. Saicho, is the deity to promise prosperous business and good health of family members. The image of Ganzan Daishi Gomason is believed to guard us against evil spirits and misfortune. The most popular spot may be the temple of Ganzan Daishi Lottery. This is the place where the successive head priests have served to offer advice for visitors' problems through the drawing of lots.

Between 1766 and 1768, Yosa Buson, a haiku poet and painter, stayed several times in Myohoji and composed haiku and drew pictures. He presented six pieces of his art works to the temple when he left. This is therefore why Myohoji's other name is called "Buson's temple".

In the 9th century, a noted priest St. Gyoki who was admired as "Boddhisattva", built a small temple in Shoinzan Toyohama-cho Wada in Kagawa Prefecture at the time he had been travelling around the country. The temple was once burnt in war, reconstructed, and relocated to Sakamoto-cho Kannonnji in 1595. The temple used to be Fujufuse sect of the Nichiren School of Buddhism.

In 1597, the feudal lord of Marugame Castle moved the temple to the present place. This happened when St. Nichigen was the First Head Priest. In 1666, the authority forbade the religious practice of Fujufuse sect. In 1669, the temple was converted to Tendai School and restarted as a branch temple of Bishamondo in Kyoto.

Having been affiliated with Rinnoji Temple of Nikko, which is the family temple of the Tokugawa Shogun, the successive head priests used to attend each Shogun's memorial services. Since the ritual took place at Tochigi Prefecture, Nikko, they had to make long trips to the Northern part of Japan. This came to an end when the Tokugawa Shogunate fell to Meiji Reformation in 1867.

Myohoji served as the temple to offer prayer for the Marugame feudal lord and his clan. In 1862, Lord Akitetsu donated a cloth hanging embroidered with Lord's family crest. The donation was dedicated to Ganzan Daishi, in hope that the Great Master's sacred power would protect the Kyogoku clan and ensure the family's everlasting prosperity. Thereafter the noble crest was put on the drapes of the altar.
The picture shows the overview of Myohoji in Edo period. Presently, the temple's main hall is located where the Ganzan Daishi Hall is in the picture.