2015/05/17

Gensho Tenno and Yakushi

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. Yakushipedia - ABC-Index 薬師如来 .
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Empress Gensho Tenno 元正天皇 and Yakushi Nyorai 薬師如来

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Empress Genshō. Genshō Tennō 元正天皇 Genshō-tennō
(683 – May 22, 748)
was the 44th monarch of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.
Genshō's reign spanned the years 715 through 724.



In the history of Japan, Genshō was the fifth of eight women to take on the role of empress regnant. The four female monarchs before Genshō were: (a) Suiko, (b) Kōgyoku, (c) Jitō and (d) Gemmei (Genmei). The three women sovereigns reigning after Genshō were (e) Kōken, (f) Meishō, and (g) Go-Sakuramachi.

Genshō was the only Japanese empress regnant to inherit her title from another empress regnant, her mother Genmei, rather than a male predecessor.

- - - Traditional narrative
Before her ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, her personal name (imina) was Hidaka-hime 氷高皇女 Hitaka no Hime Miko.
日本根子高瑞浄足姫天皇(やまとねこたまみずきよたらしひめのすめらみこと)

Genshō was an elder sister of Emperor Mommu and daughter of Prince Kusakabe 草壁皇子 and his wife 阿陪皇女(元明天皇) who later became Empress Gemmei. Therefore she was a granddaughter of Emperor Temmu and Empress Jitō by her father and a granddaughter of Emperor Tenji through her mother.

- - - Events of Genshō's life
Empress Gensho's succession to the throne was intended as a regency until Prince Obito 首(おびと)皇子, the son of her deceased younger brother Mommu, was mature enough to ascend the throne.
Obito would later become the Emperor Shōmu 聖武天皇 Shomu Tenno.
Obito was appointed Crown Prince in 714 by Empress Gemmei. In the next year, 715, Empress Gemmei, then in her fifties, abdicated in favor of her daughter Gensho. Obito was then 14 years old.

-- 715 (Reiki 1, 9th month):
In the 7th year of Gemmei-tennō 's reign (元明天皇7年), the empress abdicated; and the succession (senso) was received by her daughter, who held the throne in trust for her younger brother. Shortly thereafter, Empress Genshō acceded to the throne (sokui) as Empress Regnant.

Obito remained the crown prince, heir to the new empress. Fujiwara no Fuhito, the most powerful courtier in Gemmei's court, remained at his post until his death in 720. After his death, Prince Nagaya, a grandson of Temmu and the Empress Gensho's cousin, seized power. This power shift was a background for later conflicts between Nagaya and Fuhito's four sons during the reign of Emperor Shōmu (Shomu) 聖武天皇 (formerly Prince Obito).

Under Gensho's reign, the Nihonshoki was finished in 720. This was the first Japanese history book. Organization of the law system known as the ritsuryo was continued under the initiatives of Fuhito until his death. These laws and codes were edited and enacted by Fujiwara no Nakamaro, a grandson of Fuhito, and published as Yoro ritsuryo under the name of Fuhito. The taxation system which had been introduced by Empress Jitō in the late 7th century began to malfunction. To compensate for the decreased tax revenue, the "Act of possession in three generations", an initiative of Prince Nagaya, was enacted in 723. Under this act, people were allowed to possess a newly cultivated field once every three generations. In the fourth generation, the right of possession would revert to the national government. This act was intended to motivate new cultivation, but it only remained in effect for about 20 years.

Empress Genshō reigned for nine years.
Although there were seven other reigning empresses, their successors were most often selected from amongst the males of the paternal Imperial bloodline, which is why some conservative scholars argue that the women's reigns were temporary and that male-only succession tradition must be maintained in the 21st century. Empress Gemmei, who was succeeded by her daughter, remains the sole exception to this conventional argument.

In 724, Gensho abdicated in favor of her nephew, who would be known as Emperor Shōmu. Genshō lived for 25 years after she stepped down from the throne. She never married and had no children. She died at age 65.

Empress Genshō's grave is located in Nara. misasagi 陵(みささぎ)
This empress is traditionally venerated at a memorial Shinto shrine (misasagi), also in Nara. The Imperial Household Agency has designated this location as Mommu's mausoleum, and has been formally named Nahoyama no nishi no misasagi. The Imperial tomb can be visited today in Narazaka-cho, Nara City.

- - - The years of Genshō's reign (717 - 729)
are more specifically identified by more than one era name or nengō period:

Reiki 霊亀 (715–717)
Yōrō 養老 (717–724) Yoro
Jinki 神亀 (724–729)


- source : wikipedia -

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707-15 - - Genmei Tennō of Japan 元明天皇
She lived (661-722).
also known as Gemmyo, she was daughter of Tenji Tennō (622-673-686) and succeeded her son Mommu as the 43rd imperial ruler. She proved an unusually able ruler. She coined the first copper money and caused scribes to write down the ancient traditions lest they be lost, and in 708 she moved the capital city of Japan from Fujiwara to Heijo-Kyo, thus giving the Nara period of Japanese history its name. Married to her first cousin and nephew, Kusakabe no miko, the son of Emperor Temmu of Japan and Empress Jito of Japan,
she abdicated in favour of her daughter, Empress Gensho-Tennō.
- source : www.guide2womenleaders.com -

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- Temples related to Empress Gensho Tenno -

. Chokuganji 勅願寺 Chokugan-Ji, "Imperial Temples" .

One of them is

Taisanji 太山寺 Taisan-Ji

三身山 太山寺 Taisan-Ji - Hyogo (天台宗、兵庫県神戸市)
Built on request of Gensho in 716.
Now it is temple Nr. 1 on the Pilgrimage to Yakushi temples in Harima.
播州薬師霊場 Banshu Harima Yakushi Reijo


source and photos : mariaguri.exblog.jp

薬師如来は、ここより東北の地に定恵和尚結縁の地があり定恵和尚は願望を果 たせず寂したと示現したところ、宇合はその教示に従い七堂伽藍を整備し ... 元正天皇(715~723在位)の勅願寺として、歴代天皇をはじめ一般民衆にいたるまで広く信仰を集めた。
- source : www.do-main.co.jp -


. 播州薬師霊場 Yakushi pilgrim temples in Banshu / Harima / Hyogo .

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Choorinji 長林寺 Chorin-Ji - 龍王山 Ryuozan

975 Goshikicho Tsushimanzai, Sumoto, Hyogo



Founded by 藤原宇合 Fujiwara no Umakai.
When Gyoki Bosatsu passed the area, he found seven large branches of a pine tree and carved seven statues of Yakushi Nyorai out of them 松の梢に七体の薬師如来. One of them is still preserved to our day.

- reference : hyogotendai-yb.net tyourinji -

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Fukooji 普光寺 Fuko-Ji

武蔵国多摩郡野津田郷普光寺 Nozutamachi, Tama

The seated wooden statue of Yakushi Nyorai is about 85 cm high.
It is most probably a statue from the Heian period.

このお寺は天台宗に属し、享保4年(1719)の記録に、山王社・稲荷社・鬼子母神・観音堂再建とあるそうですが、後に観音堂を除き、塚田の三島神社に移されとあります。埼玉県教育委員会の歴史の道調査が行われた頃(昭和56~58年)にはこの寺は無住だったそうです。
普光寺には町指定文化財の木造薬師如来座像があり、座高85.5センチメートルで、後世の手が加えられているものの、定朝様といわれる平安仏の特徴を一部に残していることから、制作は平安時代末期と考えられています。

普光山畧縁起(元亀四年 1573年)Engi legend
- source : history/yakushidohengi -

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Hinata Yakushi 日向薬師 - Hinatasan Ryosen-Ji 日向山霊山寺
神奈川県伊勢原市日向1644 / 1644 Hinata Isehara-shi, Kanagawa

One of the three great Yakushi statues 日本三薬師.
Made by 行基 GyokiBosatsu.


Click for more photos !

かって日向山霊山寺といわれ、元正天皇のころ(716年)、僧行基によって開創されたと伝えられる、日本三薬師の一つ。
本尊薬師如来三尊像を始め、薬師如来像、四天王、十二神将など国の重要文化財 も多い。 また樹齢八百年と言われる、境内の幡かけ杉は、県の天然記念物に指定されている。
現在、本堂(国指定重要文化財)は、平成23年から350年ぶりの大修理を行っている。 (完成は平成28年の予定)稲穂が黄金色に色づく9月中旬頃、田のあぜや野辺のあちこちに真紅の彼岸花が咲き始め、日向路一帯に群生する彼岸花は、山の緑 と稲穂の黄色に映え、見事のコントラストを見せます。
- source : sports.geocities.jp/kanagawa_walk -


This temple is situated quite far in the mountains. It is usually very quiet with few tourists. I visited this place frequently for its quietude and spiritual atmosphere.
Gabi Greve, 1980

Look at some photos of the area.

- reference -

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At Hinata Yakushi Temple, Kanagawa 日向薬師

薬師堂雨の桜に御開帳
Yakushidoo ame no sakura ni go-kaichoo

this Yakushi Hall -
cherry blossoms in the rain
when the statue is shown
Tr. Gabi Greve

Kobayashi Aiko 小林愛子



CLICK for more sakura photos !


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Kankaiji 観海寺 - Kankai-Ji 清寧山 Seineizan
Onsen Yakushi 温泉薬師 "Yakushi of the Hot Spring


大分県別府市観海寺4 / Beppu, Oita Prefecture 874-0822


Kankai Temple in Beppu - Kawase Hasui

The temple has been founded by Saint Ninmon Bosatsu 仁聞菩薩, who founded about 28 temples in the Rokugo Manzan district of Oita more that 1280 years ago.

The Yakushi Statue was probably made by Ninmon himself

九州四十九院薬師霊場会 Kyushu Yakushi Pilgrimage Temple Nr. 12

The present-day temple was rebuilt in 1938 and is now a Zen temple of the Soto sect.

- reference -



- - - Homepage of the temple - 曹洞宗清寧山観海禅寺
- source : kankaizenji.com -


- - - - - Ninmon Bosatsu and temples in Kyushu

Rurikoo-ji 瑠璃光寺 Ruriko-Ji - Rokugomanzan “六郷満山"in the Kunisaki Peninsula 国東半島, Oita Prefecture
Futago-ji 両子寺 - Kunisaki Peninsula in Oita Prefecture
built in the second year of the Yoro period (718) by Ninmon-bosatsu, the incarnation of the deity Usa-hachiman.
In the Heian period, a unique religion mixing local gods and Buddhism developed in the Rokugomanzan Buddhist area and many temples were founded along the Kunisaki Peninsula.
- source : nippon-kichi.jp -

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CLICK for Japanese LINK
statue by Gyoki Bosatsu, 723

. Kiyotakiji 清瀧寺 / 清滝寺 Kiyotaki-Ji .
Nr. 35 of the Shikoku Henro Pilgrimage 四国八十八ヶ所.


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. Sakurado Yakushi 桜堂薬師 / 櫻堂薬師
佐久羅宮神社(櫻宮神社) Sakuramiya Jinja .

瑞浪市土岐町桜堂 / Sakuradō Tokichō Mizunami-shi, Gifu
Statue of Yakushi by Saint 三諦上人 Santai Shonin


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Tookondoo 東金堂 Tokon-Do "Eastern Golden Hall"
at temple Kofuku-Ji 興福寺 - Nara

Genshoo Daijoo Tennoo 元正太上天皇 Gensho Daijo Tenno - Ex-Empress Gensho

There are three“Golden Halls”at Kofukuji, all of which take their names according to their location in the temple complex.
The original structure was built at the request of Emperor Shomu in 726 to speed the recovery of his aunt, the ailing Empress Gensho. The current building dates to 1415.
Enshrined within are Yakushi Nyorai (Bhaisajyaguru, the main alter piece, and an Important Cultural Property),


CLICK for more photos !

Nikko Bosatsu and Gakko Bosatsu (Suryaprabha and Candraprabha, both important Cultural Properties), Monju Bosatsu (Manjusri, a National Treasure), Yuima Koji (the Layman Vimalakirti, a National Treasure), Shi Tenno (Four Deva Kings, National Treasures), and Juni Shinsho (Twelve Heavenly Generals, National Treasures).
- source : www.kohfukuji.com -


. Koofukuji, Kōfuku-ji 興福寺 Kofuku-Ji .



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Another deity associated to Gensho Tenno is Kannon Bosatsu 観音菩薩..


Myoorakuji 妙楽寺 Myoraku-Ji - 岩屋山 Iwayazan
Wakasa, Obama, Fukui 福井県小浜市

The temple has been founded by Gyoki Bosatsu in 718/719.
It has been revitalized by Kobo Daishi in 797 and is now a famous temple with a cherryblossom alley leading to the main entrance gate.
The main hall has been built in the Kamakura period and is the oldest hall in Wakasa.


source : www.wakasa-obama.jp

The main statue of 十一面観世音菩薩 Juichimen Kannon Bosatsu is said to look like Gensho Tenno.
It has a special head with 24 faces 24面 and 1000 arms carved from one piece of wood.
It has long been a secret statue for very long, but has now been restored and is shown to the public.

This temple belongs to some pilgrimages of Kannon Bosatsu:
北陸観音霊場第03番礼所 - Hokuriku Kannon Nr. 03
若狭観音霊場第19番礼所 - Wakasa Kannon Nr. 19


. Kannon Bosatsu 観音菩薩 Avalokiteshvara - ABC List .

元正天皇の御影を写したといわれる観世音菩薩 Kannon with a face resembling Gosho Tenno:



- source and photos : onmyojitatsuya.seesaa.net -

Hagaji 羽賀寺 Haga-Ji
福井県小浜市羽賀82-2 - 82-2 Haga, Obama, Fukui
Founded on request of Gosho Tenno (Chokugan-Ji)


CLICK for more photos !


This temple 羽賀寺 is also on the Hokuriku Fudo pilgrimage
北陸三十六不動尊霊場 - Hokuriku - 36 Fudo Myo-O Temples
. 36/羽賀寺 福井県小浜市羽賀82-2 .


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This Kannon has saved three emperors from eye disease,
Gensho, 桓武 Kanmu and Ichijō 一条天皇 Ichijo Tenno.

Minami Hokkeji 南法華寺 Minamihokke-Ji
3 Tsubosaka, Takatori, Takaichi District, Nara
神佛霊場 奈良11番 壺阪寺(南法華寺)



十一面千手観音菩薩像が 元正、桓武、一条天皇の眼病を治したと言う由緒から、
眼病に霊験があらたかなお寺として広く信仰を集め、お里・沢市の物語も生まれた。
- source : -

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- - - - - reference - - - - -

Ancient Buddhism in Japan - By Marinus Willem de Visser
Six quotes about Gensho

- source : books.google.co.jp -


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. Gyooki Bosatsu 行基菩薩 Gyoki Bosatsu and Yakushi Nyorai .
(668-749 AD) Gyōki, Gyōgi

The Gyooki Memorial Hall at Temple Koyadera

Konyooji 昆陽寺 Konyo-Ji
(兵摩県伊丹市)2 Chome-169 Teramoto, Itami, Hyogo
Gyooki founded this tempel and made the statue of the healing Buddha, Yakushi Nyorai, by himself.

Rendaiji 蓮台寺 Rendai-Ji
Yugasan Rendaiji 瑜伽山(ゆがさん)由加山
In 733, priest Gyoki began to worship the two statues of Amida Nyorai and Yakushi Nyorai here as "Yuga Daigongen" 瑜伽大権現 .

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. Yakushipedia - ABC-Index 薬師如来 .

. Yakushi Nyorai Pilgrimages - Introduction .


. Japan - Shrines and Temples - ABC .


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