The history of Honkakuji

The history of Honkaku-ji also known as Kai-temple

Honkaku-ji is one of the branch temples of Jōdo-Chinzei-sec-Chion-in. Its’ honored mountain name is Daishin-zan (Mt. Daishin).According to chronological records, Honkaku-ji was relocated to Seto City from the heart of the mountains in Shirahama during the Genrokuera.
Honkaku-ji originally belonged to Shingon, but transferred to Jōdo after relocating to Seto City.
Honkaku-ji is well-known as “Kai-dera," which means Shell Temple in Japanese.  Located by the beach, the fishermen used to offer up shells to Honkaku-ji throughout history. Therefore, Honkaku-ji exhibits thousands of rare shells.  In fact, one of the shells, Honkaku-Higai was discovered here, and named after Honkaku-ji.
Also, Honkaku-ji is deeply related to the Tokugawa-gosanke, Kishu Domain. In 1650 (Keian third year) the feudal lord, Yorinobu Tokugawa (Nanryu-in), visited Seto Village for the first time, including a visit to Honkaku-ji.  He repeated his visit in 1662 (Kanbun second year).
Following Lord Yorinobu, Mitsusada the second, Tsunanori the third, Yorimoto the fourth, and Yoshimune the fifth (the eighth Shogun) visited here over several generations.

Go-honzo is a wooden statue of Amitabha

Height 120cm/3'11ft Handcrafted by unknown artisan

In the Genroku era, the wooden statue of Amitabha was being transported from Kyoto to Zojo-ji (the head temple of the Jōdo Buddhist sect) in Tokyo; however, the ship was wrecked by a storm.  The story says the wooden statue of Amitabha and the attendant statues, were cast ashore on Rinkaiura beach, so they were placed at Honkaku-ji.
According to legend, Honkaku-ji was only supposed to hold the wooden statue of Amitabha until a new ship was arranged to transport them to Tokyo.  However, as the new ship was about sail to Tokyo, a big storm suddenly canceled the trip. This incident made the villagers wonder if the storm may happen again, so they asked the chief priest to chant.  The chief priest said the wooden statue of Amitabha was telling him, “I don’t want to go to Tokyo. I am comfortable here. I want to stay at this temple.” Since then, the wooden statue of Amitabha has been enshrined as Honkakuji’s Go-honzo.