Onmyo-ji Temple is a Nichiren Sect temple built along the old Koshu-kaido Road near the Fuefuki River in Isawa Onsen area. The temple is thought to have been built in 1390. In the Buddhist tradition, the name of the mountain (san-go) on which priests train is attached to the name of the temple. The mountain name attached to Onmyo-ji Temple is Ukai-san. The name of the mountain refers to a legend related to cormorant fishing.
In the Heian Period (794-1185), although the lord prohibited hunting and fishing in the Fuefuki River, an old cormorant fishing master, Ukai Kansaku, continued to fish in the river. He was sentenced to death, wrapped in a bamboo mat and drowned. After his death, his ghost appeared in the village every night.
In 1274, Nichiren Shonin and his disciples passed by the river during their journey to spread the Lotus Sutra nationwide, and met the ghost. Nichiren Shonin asked the disciples to copy each character of the lotus Sutra on small stones at the riverbank, and then let them sink to the bottom of the river. He then held a memorial service for the ghost for three days and three nights. After this, the ghost finally found peace. Nichiren made a mound for the memorial service, and that mound is said to be the beginning of the Onmyo-ji Temple.
It is said that Zeami Motokiyo’s renowned Noh song, “Ukai (cormorant fishing), written in the Muromachi Period (1336-1573), is based on this legend. The temple has the Ukai-do Hall with the grave of Ukai Kansaku, Ukai Tenjin deity, a memorial tower made for Kansaku, and more. The magnificent Nio-mon Gate rebuilt in the Kansei Era of the Edo Period (1603-1868) is also a must-see.


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