In August 2019, Soshino Hachimangu shrine in Kanayama held its annual treasure airing and cleaning. This modest shrine in the woods is the repository of a number of historical treasures. They include the 900-year old Soshinomaru sword , two 17th-century Enku carved Buddhas, and nearly 600 handwritten volumes of the Great Perfection of Wisdom Sutra from the 14th century. These photos were kindly provided by Kazuo Sugisaka, including some photos from earlier airings.
The twelfth century Soshinomaru is polished every year by a trained polisher until it gleams. This is a photo of the Soshinomaru after polishing in August 2019.
Enkū (円空) (1632–1695) was a Buddhist monk who was born in Mino Province in what is now Gifu prefecture. He wrote more than 1,500 poems, mostly waka, in the traditional form of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables. He is best known for his rough, but powerful, Buddha statues. This shrine has a number of wood carvings, and two of them are by Enkū (photo on the right). The Enkū carvings are dark, whether by age or by the type of wood we do not know. The photo on the left was taken in 2012. The standing Enkū statuettes (shown with a pair of wooden komainu) measure 40 cm and 50 cm, respectively.
Fourteenth Century Sutra
The 600-volume Prajnaparamita Great Perfection of Wisdom Sutra was transcribed over the 21-year period from 1318 to 1338. However, this shrine has fewer than 600 volumes because they were loaned out to another shrine and some of them were not returned. For 700 years, the volumes have been carefully preserved with camphor. The photo on the right is the outside of the 583rd volume. The other photo shows the closing portion. The colophon shows the name of the person who calligraphed the volume. It is dated during the Karyaku period, 1326-29. These sutra photos were taken during the airing of 2017 by Kazuo Sugisaka. An investigation was conducted into the circumstances surrounding the writing of the sutra. The results, including the names, the volume, the date, location and events are summarized here: http://www.monjo.spec.ed.jp/?action=common_download_main&upload_id=591 .
We are grateful to Kazuo Sugisaka for sharing these special photos of the treasures of Soshino Hachimangu with us.