Kobo Daishi

Jun 9th, 2009 | By | Category: Photo Gallery, Temples & Shrines, Tokyo and Vicinity

Kobo Daishi is the posthumous name of a Buddhist monk known as Kukai who established the Shignon sect of Buddhism with the creation of a seminary community and an Esoteric Buddhism School over 1,200 years ago on Mt. Koya in Wakayama Prefecture.

Kobo Daishi Buddhist Monk Japan

Today, statues and images of Kobo Daishi abound in Japan and many believe that he has been in a state of perpetual meditation since his death in 835 and that he continues to provide relief to those who seek salvation.

“Kobo Daishi is known as the father of Japanese culture. He is renowned for his talents as a teacher, engineer, inventor, poet, calligrapher and for creating the first public school in Japan.”
Source: Kobo Daishi & Koyasan

The site of Kobo Daishi’s seminary and school, Koyasan, is part of the “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range” (more commonly known as the Shikoku Eighty-eight Temples Pilgrimage), one of Japan’s fourteen UNESCO as a World Heritage sites.

The statue of Kobo Daishi pictured above is typical and was found on the grounds of a temple near Nippori in Tokyo.  It represents how he would have looked as he made the Shikoku pilgrimage: a robed monk with his sleeping mat tied to his back, wearing a straw hat and carrying a walking stick and a small bowl to collect offerings along the route.

Image Credit: Personal Collection

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  1. Now, I just learned something about Japan. Thanks, Shane!

  2. A trip to Koya-san is essential on any itinerary in Japan. I traveled there in November in 2007 and spent a night in this buddhist monastery. It was simply an awesome experience.

  3. Koya-san is still a great experience, but it has become very touristy. Hike the 88-temple walk before it’s ruined - it was only recently named a UNESCO heritage site, I believe.

    Incidentally, if you really want to appreciate Kobo Daishi, walk the trail just past temple 11; nothing will look more beautiful than the top of the mountain, with Kukai atop as well; not so much because of the view, just that you actually finished the upgrade.

    Shikoku Henro journals:

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