Daibutsu, Kamakura

Daibutsu, Kamakura
Daibutsu in Kamakura, June 2010. There were thousands of school kids visiting that day. It was still great fun.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Shugyo Daishi

In Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles there is a Shingon Buddhist temple on First Street called the Koyasan Buddhist Temple. Recently a statue was installed in front of the temple which is apparently in commemoration of the temples's 100th anniversary. The base of the statue says Shugyo Daishi.

I was curious if this was an alternative name for the founder of Shingon Buddhism in Japan, Kobo Daishi or Kukai. But my Google searches did not clearly tell me who Shugyo Daishi was. With the help of several people from the Samurai Archives, I learned that it appears the term Shugyo refers to some sort of pilgrimage or person who is on a path towards knowledge or enlightenment. It also appears that the Shugyo Daishi statue in front of the temple is Kobo Daishi while he was on a pilgrimage according to this website. If anybody out there has more knowledge regarding Shugyo or Shugyo Daishi, please share.

Below is what someone from the Samurai Archives provided. Very interesting.

北米開教 百年記念

hokubei kaikyô hyakunen kinen

Hundred-Year Anniversary of the Opening of the Teaching in North America.

The left side refers to the 4th (第4) completion (成満) of the Shikoku pigrimage (四国通路), and then lists two names: Kurata Yasuo and Tomoko (倉田康男、智子), as donors or benefactors (施主).

The last line names the head of the temple (I guess):

Leader (先達) of this branch temple (別院), 7th generation (第七世) Abbot (大僧正)... and then it gives the abbot's name 諦詮。

The right side names the temple: Koya-san (高野山) US (米国) Branch Temple (別院), followed by what I assume is another name:

Eighth Generation (大八世) Asahi (旭)Kiyosumidai (清澄代).


  1. Udon_lover1:55 PM

    I am Japanese. I'm a wife of Tony. I have completed the pilgrim of 88 temples and one in Koyasan Kongobuji temple.

    Kobo Daishi and Kukai is the founder. Shugyo Daishi...I have never heard of before. But I'm not a history person. So I might be stupid enough not to know this name.

    The meaning of shugyo is exactly what you wrote, though.

    So...I think Kobo Daishi or Kukai is the right name for this.

    My father is a teacher of Japanese history. If you have more accurate answer, I can ask him. Please let me know.

  2. Thank you for your comment. Please do not go to any trouble. I often visit this temple and the next time I see someone from the temple, I will ask them.

  3. tinahime7:06 PM

    Louis and I are regulars at The Koyasan Betsuin, next time you visit, please say hello. We love your blog, feel free to email us.



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  5. Thank you for your comment Tina Hime. I like to visit the temple during my lunch breaks to see the Jizo and Kannon. I also to the same at the Zenshuji as well.

    By the way, do you know who the Shugyo Daishi statue is? I am not familiar with that name. Is it Kukai?

  6. I searched up and down in the Shingon Koyasan book and could not find this name either. I am inclined to agree with Udon_lover that it is possible that Kobo Daishi is the name you seek.

    But to be absolutely sure I would ask Asahi Sensei at the Koyasan Betsuin at lakoyasan@sbcglobal.net He is always happy to answer any questions and he has been a great help to me and Tina.

    PS- Anata no blog wa sugoii desu!

  7. Hello. Shugyo Daishi refers to Kukai when he was 42 years old, about the same time he returned back to Japan after meeting his master in Tang China, Huiguo.

    Today happened to be the dedication ceremony of the statue if you're interested in knowing :)

  8. Thank you Tktru. That is very interesting.

  9. Anonymous2:24 AM

    Thank you this was really helpful! Now I understand what the statue actually means.