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    Ōno Dōken Sai Harutane
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History and architecture

Myōken Bosatsu

Two statues of the Myōken Bosatsu in the Nose style are worshipped inside the Myōken Hall, one of them having been dedicated in 1776 and enshrined in the small altar on the right side of the hall. Apparently, the statue was offered as a prayer for the restoration of Gatsuzōji, which at that time was in an advanced stage of dilapidation.

 The god Myōken in the picture is enshrined in the front altar. According to an entry from October 18, 1846 made in the History of God Myōken, which is now kept in the Gatsuzōji archive, Nichijun, the 102nd priest of the Hokekyōji Temple in Chiba Prefecture (under whom Nichiki, the 29th priest of Gatsuzōji, studied during his time at Hokekyōji) prayed for the restoration of his temple, which, 600 years after its establishment, was in desperate need of repair. As a result, in 1845 the completion of the framework of the living quarters was celebrated. Then Nichiki ordered a sculptor to create an image of the god Myōken similar to those in Nose from the main pillar of the old temple. Afterwards he prayed over the statue during his one hundred days of ascetic practices at Hokekyōji, then installed the image at Gatsuzōji.

 The miniature altar which shelters the image of Myōken Bosatsu was donated in July 1852 by Tomijūrō Nakamura, a kabuki actor popular in the late Edo Period for his performance in young woman roles, together with his prayer for "the safety of his family; business prosperity; love and respect of many people; continuance of his family line".

  On the path leading to the Myōken Hall there used to be a stone torii (a gateway specific to Shinto shrines) donated in 1810 by a group of devout believers, but the damage caused by the passing of years turned it into a real danger in case of earthquake. That is why, with the safety of visitors to the temple or to the graveyard in mind, the torii was removed in May 2009. It is indeed unfortunate that this symbol of the border between the sacred and the profane, which had separated the two worlds for more than 200 years, exists now only in photos. However, the foundations of the round pillars remain, and the part on which the donors' names were engraved is now placed in front of the Uga Tokushō Shrine. In 1809 a well was dug near the torii and in 1811 a roof was built over it. Next, in 1832, the two stone guardian dogs and the incense burner were placed in front of the worshippers' hall.

 In the Izumi area there are numerous temples worshipping Myōken Bosatsu, but this particular Myōken Bosatsu has been venerated since ancient times as "Lord Myōken of the North". Nowadays, one can often see people who put their hands together and bow their heads in prayer when they pass by the temple.