History of Magoji (Temple of Horse)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic
This story is from a long time ago, in the 6th century, the era of Empress Suiko, the 33rd monarch of Japan...

Submitted: April 25, 2016

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Submitted: April 25, 2016



This story is from a long time ago, the era of Empress Suiko, the 33rd monarch of Japan (554-628).

Prince Shotoku (Prince-regent, an important politician who supported the empress Suiko) had been visiting the territories in charge, on a fine black horse named “Kai Kurokoma” (a fine black horse from Kai province), followed by his men including Kawakatsu Hatano.

Prince Shotoku and their delegation rested for a while on the coast of Takahama of Wakasa Province (current Fukui prefecture). While they were resting, prince’s black horse disappeared.

"The horse has gone to somewhere. Where did it go?"

Everyone wondered, looking around here and there, looking for the horse. They tried hard to look for it for a long time, but couldn't find it on the sandy beach.

Then, at that time, they heard the whinny of the horse from above the mountains. When they turned to the direction where the neighs were, they saw dazzling bright lights around there. 

"What’s that?"

"It looks like halo…. A sacred halo."

Prince’s men said unanimously.

Prince Shotoku told them with dignity “That is a sacred place of Kannon (a spiritual figure of mercy, and a bodhisattva associated with compassion as venerated by Mahayana Buddhists)."

Prince Shotoku went to the place where the dazzling light came from. And he ordered his men to build a steeple, enshrine the kan-non as the main image of worship and build a temple for it. The temple is Hon-ko-ji, Magoji (Mago temple, the temple of the horse) today. Since then, the area around the temple is called magoji, derived from the temple name.

Magoji is known as the oldest temple in Fukui Prefecture, which was built about 1300 years ago. The principal image of the temple, Bato Kannon (Horse-headed Kan-non, Hayagriva, manifestation of Avalokitesvara with an ornament in the shape of a horse's head), which was made in the late Hei-an period (794~1192), has been designated as an important cultural property of the country.

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