In the Nara Period, Sakai became the birthplace of one of the most famous monks in Japanese history, Gyoki [行基]. We mentioned Gyoki in our post about Nozaki Mairi as the primary founder of Nozaki Kannon. However, Gyoki built not only Nozaki Kannon but also many other temples throughout the Kansai region. In fact, Nara’s famous golden daibutsu was also built by him too. Moreover, Gyoki is responsible for having built of number of important pieces of infrastructure in the Kansai region. There are so many things that Gyoki helped build that it is impossible to enumerate everything, but easily the most famous of his creations is Owada no Tomari, known today as the port of Kobe. He also played a crucial role in building many irrigation ponds throughout the Osaka area, including repairing Sayama Pond, the oldest irrigation pond in Japan.
Getting to Ebara-ji Temple
Ebara-ji Temple is far away from Sakai’s city center. To get there, take the JR Hanwa Line and walk 10 minutes in the direction of Senboku New Town.
Once you pass Sakai City Hospital (on left) you will turn left at a big intersection and walk an additional 3 minutes,
and the entrance to the temple is just behind this large white board.
The locals of Sakai affectionately call this temple “Chie no Monju-san”, meaning “Monjubosatsu of wisdom”.
Today, Ebara-ji Temple is an especially popular location for hopeful students wishing to pass challenging exams, such as university entrance exams. During January through February these students flood the temple in hopes of receiving some of Monjubosatsu’s infinite wisdom.
Once you get close to the hondo, you will notice that is covered in white handkerchiefs, especially if you come at the start of the year.
Eager students pinned these handkerchiefs on the hondo, in the hopes of getting some of Monju-san’s wisdom for their exams. The word “合格” (pass) has clearly been written on many of the handkerchiefs pined to the hondo.
A long time ago, people would actually write their hopes directly on the temple building. Some of those messages still are still visible today.
If you do not need to pass an exam, then you might find it more interesting that Ebara-ji is very pretty in the spring and early summer.
If you are ever in need of a little luck on an exam, swing by Ebara-ji!
Coming next time,
Inexpensive food in and Edo Period Mansion. Ganko Hiranogo Yashiki.
The adventure continues…