Gyoki was a Japanese Buddhism priest of Nara period. He was a charismatic monk of the ancient Japanese Buddhism. He was called by the honorific title of Gyoki Bosatsu (Bodhisattva Gyoki).
Gyoki was born in Kawachi province (present-day Osaka Prefecture) in 668. He studied Buddhism under the priest Dosho of hokoji Temple in Asuka, and took Buddhist vows at the age of 15. He also studied civil engineering under Dosho. Advocating hat Buddhism should be independent of the regal power, he propagated Buddhism for salvation of the suffering people. He also contributed to social welfare like building temples, roads, bridges, irrigation reservoirs. The Imperia court was afraid of his overwhelming influence on common people and clamped down on his activities blaming that he had violated the law to regulate priests and nuns.
However, when Emperor Shomu asked Gyoki to help raise funds to build Daibutsu (a great Buddha statue) in Nara, Gyoki accepted the emperor’s request, and immediately began fund-raising campaigns. He was recognized by the Imperia court and was given a rank of Daisojo (the Great Priest). At the age of 80, he had passed away at Sugawaradera Temple in Nara in 749 just before the consecrating ceremony for the statue took place.
The legends about Gyoki Bosatsu are referred to in many books such as “the Nihon Ryoiki,” “the Honcho Hokke Kenki” and “the Nihon Ojo Gokurakuki.” It is said that he might have drawn the oldest Japanese map, “Gyoki-zu.”
It is believed that far in the future, Miroku Bosatsu, or Maitreya Bodhisattva will become a Buddha, and then appear on earth to save those unable to achieve enlightenment, thus bringing universal salvation to all sentient beings.
The most well-known statue of Miroku Bosatsu in Japan is the one housed at Reihokan (the temple museum) of Koryuji Temple in Uzumasa in Kyoto. This Miroku Bosatsu Hankashi-yui-zou statue represents the seated Miroku with the finger of the right hand touching the cheek, as if in deep meditation or musing. The mystic smile and the gentle and sensitive finger put on the cheek are breathtakingly beautiful. The round outline gives feminine-like impression. The smile on its face is generally called an archaic smile.
It is said that this red pine wooden statue used to be decorated with gold powder. There are two theories as to where it was carved; one theory states that it was brought to Japan from the Korean Peninsula judging from the facial expressions and the material wood, and the other theory states that it was carved in Japan. The argument is yet to be settled. The clear eyes seem to suggest that it was brought from the continent.
Kannon Temple is a Yuzu Nembutsu temple on Mt Otowa in Sakurai, Nara Prefecture.
Kannon Temple is the 8th temple of Amadera Sanju-Rokkasho. In the Hakuho period, when Nakatomi no Kamatari's son, Jo-e, enshrined his father at Myoraku Temple, he established Kannon Temple to exorcize devils. The temple includes a statue of Sahasrabhuja-arya-avalokiteśvara, which was carved from a single tree by Kamatari.
During the Heian period, Kannon Temple prospered and was known as Otowa Hyakubo. In 876, however, much of the temple was destroyed in a flood.
The temple's principle deity is, of course, Sahasrabhuja-arya-avalokiteśvara, which is known as Otowa's Kannon. The temple grounds feature several special spots, such as Otowa spring (said to be good for eye diseases), and a ginkgo tree (said to bring good fortune).
Nara Daigan Temple is an Omuro Shingon Buddhist temple in Ouda-ku, Uda, Nara Prefecture. The name of the mountain where it is sited is Mt Satta.
Nara Daigan Temple is also called Shichifuku-ji. Soga-no-umako established the temple on the order of the prince Shotoku. During the Edo period, the Uda Matsuyama clan preserved it.
The principal image of Nara Daigan Temple is a statue of the Eleven-headed Kannon-bosatsu. The temple was once burnt down yet the image was saved miraculously. As a result, the image is now called the 'Non-burning Kannon'.
It is also believed that the image can help avert fire disasters. Within the precinct, rare items include Buddhist stones and Fudezuka of Morino Yoshinori. It is famous for its Lenten fare.
The old Shimizudera Temple is located beside Hodai Temple. It is located on the Fudarakusan mountain and it belongs to the Soto sect of Buddhism. It is also called Shimizu Kannon Temple. Its principal image is the Jyuichimen Sente Kannon.
The nearby water that gushes down the mountain is counted as one of the 'top 15 waters of Toyo no Kuni'. It is said that the water quality has never changed since the Heian period. Even today it moistens the arable lands below. The water is reputed to have the 'power to confer immortality'. It is also known to be good for stomach complaints and diabetes.
The Shimizudera Temple is located in front of a forest of Castanopsis trees. In fact, just viewing the forest gives the sense that one's life may become longer.
Chugu-ji Temple is one of the three major Yamato Monzeki temples. It is close to Horyuji-temple in Ikaruga Town, Ikoma County, Nara Prefecture, and is associated with Shotoku Taishi.
Chugu-ji Temple was established in the 29th year of the Suiko Emperor period (621), when Shotoku Taishi changed a house of his mother, Anahobe-no-Hashihito Queen, into a temple.
After Sonchi Queen became a nun in the temple, Chugu-ji Temple became a Monzeki temple, one in which the imperial family or aristocrats live and train themselves.
The Miroku Bodhisattva statue, a national treasure preserved in one of the main buildings, was made in the late Asuka period and is the oldest example of marquetry work in the country. The figure, with its left leg folded under it and its right finger lightly touching its cheek, is beautiful and famous. 'Tenjukoku-shuchu' is a collection of valuable embroidery dating to the Asuka period. A princess, Tachiba-no-Ooiratsume, mourning over Shotoku Taishi's death, was ordered to embroider the other side. Now, you can see its replica in the temple.
Senkoji Temple is located on Mt Narukawa in the town of Heguri, Koma district, Nara Prefecture. It is a temple of the Daigo sect of Shingon Buddhism.
The temple's full name is Motoyama-kami Senkoji Temple. It is also known as the temple where Enno-Gyoja (a shaman who founded the Shugendō and who lived between the Asuka and Nara periods) stayed to train before going to Sanjyo-Gadake, until he was 42 years old.
Another name for the temple is Motoyama-kami and it is still a place for Shugendō training. A further name is Nyonin-Kamiyama, which refers to the story in which Enno-Gyoja’s mother came to visit him.
Senkoji Temple was built to enshrine an image of Sahasrabhuja-arya-avalokiteśvara. Senko means 'thousand lights' because the bodhisattva is famously reputed to emit 1000 lights. In the Jizo Hall, there is a guardian deity of children, which has a bamboo hat on. There is a saying that by worshiping this deity, any sickness can be cured.
Futai-ji is a temple of the Shingon-risshu sect and is located near Mt Kinryu in Nara Prefecture. The temple is also known as Narihira-ji.
In the 14th year of the Jowa period (847), after the Heijo Emperor had abdicated, he left Nara, the capital, and built Kayano-gosho, the origin of Futai-ji. Apo Shinno and his son, Arihara Narihira, succeeded to the building. After Apo Shino died, Arihara Narihira made the Sei-Kannon statue to mourn his father's death and founded this temple.
Inside the temple are some Important Cultural Assets, including a wooden Sei-Kanzeon Bosatsu statue, otherwise called 'Narihira Kannon', and a wooden Godai-myoo statue.
The temple features a Yosemune-style building from the Muromachi period, a tile-roofed main building, a 'four-leg' south gate from the late Kamakura period, and so on.
The temple has a third name name, 'Nanto Flower's Old Temple', and you can enjoy beautiful flowers in the garden throughout the four seasons.