A symbol of the thriving Buddhist culture in Aizu ”Kintosan Eryuji Temple”

A symbol of the thriving Buddhist culture in Aizu
”Kintosan Eryuji Temple”

Ranking 5th in number of temples

On hearing the word temples, you most likely think of Kyoto or Nara. Other regions known for temples are Kamakura and Hiraizumi. But Aizu also has a thriving Buddhist culture. Aizu ranks 5th in the number of temples in the region, with the aforementioned 4 locations ranking in the top 4.
We were given this information by Emori Fujita, the Deputy Chief Priest of Eryuji Temple, Buzan school, Shingon sect in Aizubangemachi, Kawanumagun, Fukushima Prefecture.
History has it that Eryuji temple was established when the monk, Seigan from Liang Dynasty built a high temple in the year 540, so it has a history of 1500 years. The temple was moved to its current location in 1190. Within the premises are a hall called Tachiki Kannon Hall, Aizu Korori Three Kannon holy place, and Aizu Thirty Three Kannon, which is the 31st holy temple.

Kannon carved from a single tree

“Guided by the priest, we enter the Kannon (or Buddha) hall where the main Buddha statue, Eleven Faced Thousand Arms Buddha, is enshrined. Usually, the statue is not available for public viewing, but we were allowed a special worship session. After completing our initial prayer for the special viewing, we came face to face with the Kannon which stood approximately 8.5 meters tall. We had to look up to see the face of the majestic Kannon.

This Buddha statue which was carved about 1200 years ago in 808, is also called Tachiki Kannon. It is called ”Tachiki” which means standing tree, because it was carved from a single tree. After hearing this, Nakata took a second look at the Kannon statue. He commented loudly ”It’s amazing there was a tree of this size. It is so big.”
The girth is so wide, that even an adult can’t embrace it. Tachiki Kannon is designated an Important Cultural Property of Japan. It also is the largest wooden statue in Japan to be carved from a single standing tree.

A Hugging Pillar to bring to fulfill all prayers

Also as famous as the main Buddha, Tachiki Kannon, is the Hugging Pillar. To the right of the Tachiki Kannon, there is a large pillar called the Hugging Pillar which is believed to fulfill one’s prayers when you hug it. The custom started when people began hugging the pillar instead of the Buddha statue to have their prayers granted. Even now, people look to the Buddha statue on the left as they embrace the Hugging Pillar.
When they renovated the Kannon Hall, there were strong requests to leave the Hugging Pillar as is, so they placed pieces of wood above and below it to secure it. Many people still come to the temple to embrace the Hugging Pillar.
”When visitors enter this Hall, their attention is drawn to the Hugging Pillar immediately. They do not listen to my story anymore. They all look at the pillar…” He told us laughing.
Nakata also hugged the pillar. What did he pray for? He also encouraged the staff to do the same saying ”You do it too.” Perhaps people gather at a temple for this kind of warm interaction.


Kintosan Eryuji Temple
2944 Matsubara, Toji, Aizubangemachi, Kawanuma, Fukushima
URL http://tachikikannon.jp/