An-yo-in


History

AnyoMHThe original temple was not located here. It was built at the east side of Amanawa Shinmei Jinja in 1225 by Masako Hojo to pray for the repose of her departed husband, Yoritomo Minamoto (1147-1199), the founder of Kamakura Shogunate, and was named Chorakuji, which belonged to the Ritsu {re-tsu} sect. As Masako died the same year, her nephew Yasutoki Hojo (1183-1242), who later assumed the seat of the Third Hojo Regent, remodeled the Temple and changed its name to "An-yo-in Chorakuji", taking Masako's posthumous Buddhist name "An-yo-in". Later in 1308, the Temple was ravaged by fire, and again in 1333 when the town was devastated by the troops of Yoshisada Nitta (1302-1338). The Kamakura Period and the Hojo Regime came to a tragic end.

Shortly afterwards, the Temple was relocated to the present site, where another temple called Zendoji had existed. Since Zendoji had been built by a member of the same Hojo family but was also burnt down by the Nitta's troops, the two temples merged to become a new one bearing the name "An-yo-in", and changing the denomination from Ritsu to Jodo.

Another fire in 1680 totally destroyed the Temple again. When reconstruction was planned, an idea came up to bring here its sub-temple Tashiro Kan'non Hall situated near Myohonji, and consolidate the temple group. Back in the late 12th century, Nobutsuna Tashiro (date of birth and death unknown) was a loyal retainer of Yoritomo Minamoto and joined Yoritomo's warfare against the Taira Clan from the very beginning. He rendered distinguished services in the battles and greatly contributed to Minamoto's victory. Yoritomo rewarded him in recognition of his services. The Tashiro Kan'non Hall had thus been built to dedicate to his guardian deity Kan'non.

Upon the completion of the new Temple, a statue of Senju (Thousand-Armed) Kan'non, or Sahasrabhuja in Skt. called 'Tashiro Kan'non", was brought here and was enshrined together with the statue of Amida Nyorai. A series of fires produced this unique coupling: A statue of Amida Nyorai, or Amitabha in Skt. and that of Thousand-Armed Kan'non.

A Amida Nyorai statue at e-Museum, and paintings of Senju Kan'non statue at NNM.

Main Hall (Picture, top)

The Temple structure consists of the gate, main hall, Jizo-do hall and priests' living quarter. The main object of worship is the statue of Amida Nyorai . Right behind this statue is a 160-centimeter-tall statue of Thousand-Armed Tashiro Kan'non. Kept inside this statue is another statue of Kan'non, which is said to be the deity Masako offered prayer to for her marriage with Yoritomo. Her wishes later came true. As a result, it is venerated today like Cupid by young women who wish to have successful love and marriage . Both Amida and Senju Kan'non statues are believed to have been carved during the Kamakura Period (1185-1333). The statue of Kan'non is listed on the third of the Bando and Kamakura Thirty-Three Kan'non Pilgrimage.

A picture of Senju Kan'non at TNM.

AnyoHokyoOn the left-hand altar is a statue of Bishamonten, or Vaisravana in Skt. (the God of Treasure) and had been one of the Shichifukujin, or the Seven Lucky Deities in Kamakura until 1997.

At the right is the statue of Bato Kan'non, or Hayagriva in Skt. (Horse-headed Kan'non). It is represented with a horse's head carved on its headdress like Minotaur, though not bull's head. Bato is one of the six major Kan'non, and it always has a pugnacious expression.

A panel of Bato Kan'non shown at MFA.

The Temple originally founded by Masako Hojo owns two statues of her own. The older one is said to show realistic figure of Masako.

Jizo Hall

At the left inside the gate lies a small structure, wherein enshrined is a stone statue of Jizo Bosatsu, or Ksitigarbha-bodhisattva in Skt., fashioned in the latter half of the 14th century. This statue is called "Higiri (he-ghee-re) Jizo", meaning one's wish be answered within a fixed period of time if he or she says a prayer here. It ranks last among the Twenty-Four Jizo Pilgrimage in Kamakura and is also called "Koyasu Jizo" or Jizo that would bring an easy childbirth.

Hokyo-into (Picture; right)

In the backyard stands a big, as high as 3.3 meters, stone tower called hokyo-into. It is made of andesite. The year of make is inscribed as 1308. It was installed for the Priest Ryoben (1349-1400), a member of the Hojo family and founder of Zendoji. The oldest of its kind in the Kanto area, this hokyo-into is designated as an ICA. A smaller hokyo-into standing next is said to be Masako's tomb. Her tomb is also located in the cemetery of Jufukuji. Historians say both are not her tombs but cenotaphs.

Notes:

A big tree standing in front of the main hall is 700-year-old maki {mah-kee} (Chinese black pine or Podocarpus). With roughly two-meter diameter and as the third largest tree in Kamakura, Kamakura City designated it as a Natural Monument.

Also notable are flowers of tsutsuji (azalea or Rhododendron kaempferi). In May, the Temple is covered by the pink flowers and dubbed as Tsutsuji Temple.


(Updated August 2010)

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