Jigenji is a temple of the Singon-shu, a sect of Esoteric Buddhism founded by Kukai (Kobo Daishi) in the 9th century.
This temple is dedicated to the Eleven-Headed Kannon (Bodhisattva of Compassion). It also houses statues of the following Buddhist deities: Fudo Godai Myoo (the Five Wisdom Kings including Acala (the King of Fire)), Yakushi Nyorai (the Buddha of healing), Amida Nyorai (the Buddha of Light), Aizen Myoo (the King of Passion), Shaka Nyorai (the historical Buddha), Fugen Bosatsu (Bodhisattva of Universal Virtue), Monju Bosatsu (Bodhisattva of Wisdom), Bato Kannon (Horse-headed Kannon), Juntei Kannon (Mother Goddess), Jizo Bosatsu (Guardian Deity of People), Kokuzo Bosatsu (Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Memory), Kongokai Dainichi Nyorai (the Supreme Buddha of the Diamond Realm), and Taizokai Dainichi Nyorai (the Supreme Buddha of the Womb Realm). The temple is also known for its original Buddhist statue called “Jazz” Kannon, a Senju (thousand-armed) Kannon holding a musical note and a rest. A 1.6-meter-tall seated statue of Enma (the King of Hell) is also a must-see in the temple.
Statue of Enma
Planted in the Edo period (17th to 19th century), the weeping cherry tree was designated as the natural monument of Sakado City in 1981. Standing at 15 meters tall with age estimation about 250 years old, this beautiful cherry tree attracts many visitors both from within and outside the city when it blossoms in spring. The night viewing of illuminated tree is breathtakingly fascinating.
This cherry tree is now facing a crisis, however; its core is hollowed out and its root is decaying. Jigenji Temple is taking measures necessary to sterilize and inhibit the growth of fungus as well as to prevent decay. To protect this beautiful tree, the ongoing efforts are required.
In 2007, the local community organized a group for the preservation of the tree. They hold a charity event every year when the cherry tree is in full bloom. With the cooperation and support of many people, Jigenji Temple will keep trying to preserve the weeping cherry tree to be enjoyed long into the future.
While the weeping cherry tree attracts many visitors every spring when it is in full bloom, Jigenji Temple has one more figure that is standing tall: the great statue of Enma, the king of hell.
Created by Jitsuyu Fukushima, a sculptor of Buddhist statues, this statue is made mainly of Styrofoam with adhesives, linen cloth, and whitewash (pigment made from shell powder) diluted with artificial lacquer. The 1.6-meter-tall statue shows both anger and mercy on his face. You can see how this statue was created from here.
In Japan, Enma is believed to be the judge of the departed souls. The evil ones are sent to the hell while the honest ones are to the heaven. Jigenji Temple holds Etoki (literally means “an explanation of a picture”) meetings in front of this Enma statue to teach children how to live with honesty and do no evil. The temple is planning to give more opportunities for visitors to see this stunning statue.
Etoki meeting with Enma
285 Nakaosaka, Sakado City, Saitama, 350-0206
From Wakaba station on Tobu Tojo Line
Take the East exit of Wakaba station and go to the ground floor. Take Tobu bus line bound for “Hiashi Sakado Danchi” to the last station, and walk about 10 minutes to the temple.
Alternatively, take the bus bound for “Kawagoe Station” (Waka 02 line), get off at “Kawagoe-Sakai” stop and walk about 2 minutes.
From Kawagoe Station on Tobu Tojo Line
Take the East exit of Kawagoe station and go down to the Kawagoe Mine store to the right. Take Tobu bus bound for “Wakaba Station” (No. 6 bus terminal, Waka 02 line), get off at “Kawagoe-Sakai” station and walk about 2 minutes.