Sourinji is one of the oldest temples of Tendai Buddhism Sect in Japan, which is dedicated to Yakushi(Skt., Bhaisajyaguru; Healing Buddha, an important cultural property of Japan) and Kangi-ten. It is said that the temple was established about 1200 years ago, in 805 A.D. by Saicho, who introduced Tendai Sect to Japan.
Saicho studied Buddhism in China in the Tang Dynasty. After returning home, he dedicated to the Emperor Kammu(the founder of the ancient capital in Kyoto) a lot of Buddhist sutras and equipments for esoteric Buddhism, which he brought from China.
The Emperor set up the temple in this place as the Japan's first hall for Goma, a kind of rituals of esoteric Buddhism. After the establishment of Hiezan Enryaku-ji Temple in 823 A.D., Sorin-ji got affiliated with it.
Since Middle ages, Sourinji Temple has been so famous for cherry blossoms; Toyotomi Hideyoshi(a Daimyo who unified Japan in 16th century) held a cherry-viewing party here in 1584 A.D. In the following year, Hideyoshi rebuilt the main hall of the temple.
In the Edo era, Sourinji reduced its scale, because a portion of precincts was given up to establish Kodai-ji Temple in 1605 A.D., and Higashi-Ohtani-Byo in 1653 A.D. Moreover, the temple was whittled down more portion of the precincts to create the Maruyama Park in Meiji era. Today, the main hall and the Saigyodo-hall in an enclave only remain.
Saicho, posthumously Dengyo Daishi, is a priest in Heian Era, who was born in current Ohtsu-City, Shiga Pref. He received the Buddhist Commandments at Kaidan-In in Todai-ji Temple in Nara. But he despaired at corruption of the religious world in Nara of those days, and he ascended to Mt. Hiei in Kyoto to set up Ichijo-Shikan-In, which is currently the Enryaku-ji Temple.
After that, he journeyed to China to study the Tientai(J., Tendai) school. Two years later, he returned from China and preached Tendai Buddhism in Enryaku-ji Temple.
Tendai is a comprehensive sect, which contains esotericism, Zen, Nembutsu (invocation to Amida Buddha) and so on. Tendai Sect greatly influenced the Japanese thought and culture as it fostered the founders of the "new Kamakura Buddhist sects", including Jodo Sect, Jodo-shin Sect, Nichiren Sect, Rinzai Sect and Soto Sect.
The principal Buddha of Sorin-ji Temple is Yakushi (Skt., Bhaisajyaguru; Healing Buddha). Yakushi has a pot of medicines in his left hand, which heal the sickness of body and the distress of mind.
The temple's history says that the statue Yakushi was made by Dengyo Daishi, who established this temple about 1,200 years ago. It has been designated as a cultural property by the national government.
The model of Kangi-ten is Ganesha, a deity of Hinduism.
Originally, Ganesha was a greedy devil who had an elephant head on a human body, making people suffer from plague.
Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy, was distressed at Ganesha's violence. So Kannon transformed into a figure of woman devil and suggested to Ganesha she quench his sexual lust, in exchange for him to become a believer in Buddhism.
Ganesha was delighted to accept the proposal and became Kangi-ten, one of guardian deities of Buddhism.
That is why Kangi-ten has two elephant heads on two human bodies hugging each other. "Kangi" means great ecstasy.
Omamori are charms intended to offer protection against a wide range of problems in your life and uncertainties. However, it goes without saying that your dreams do not come true like magic by grace of Buddha when you keep an omamori. What is important is that an omamori brings you awareness of being watched over by Buddha. The best thing is to pray to Buddha so that you get opportunities over which you have no control, as well as to step up your efforts.
It is Sourinji-Temple where Goma service was performed for the first time in Japan.
Now, what kind of rituals the Goma service is?
In Goma, a priest burns small sticks of wood on the altar, reciting sutras to pray to Buddha. The flame is believed to burn up our foul passions.
The Goma sticks for the service are dedicated by worshippers. Why don't you dedicate a stick with your name and wish written on it? It will be burned on the altar in Goma services held in the main hall several times a month.
A little stick of wood for Goma Service. After writing your name and wish on it, please dedicate it to the temple.
◆Goma Stick200 yen