Clip art of monk

Hello, everyone. I am a monk who is living in Kyoto. I’d like to talk about Toji a sightseeing spot that represents Kyoto today. Toji so called Toji Gokokuji is famous for the temple of the head temple of Shingon sect but I think few people know what kind of temple it is in the first place. I’ll tell you it from now on.

Toji is in the first place a temple built with Seiji Temple wished for Kyoto protection by Kanmu emperor in 796 (Enryaku 15) that is two years after Heian relocation. The emperor decided Seiji Temple as the protector of western part of Japan and Toji as the protector of eastern part of Japan. It was at first a national temple which transcended the sects, after the importance of Esoteric Buddhism was being recognized by Kukai, the imperial court planned to establish Esoteric Buddhism Root Dojo. And in 823 (Kounin 14) this temple name was renamed as Toji Gokokuji after this temple was given by Kukai. By the way, Esoteric Buddhism means the secret teachings that only those who have reached the most profound stage can look. Therefore, by showing Mandara ( A sketch of Esoteric Buddhism Universe) I describe below, it leads people to the world of enlightenment and comfort.

Photo of Five-Story Pagoda

The landmark tower of Toji, five-storied pagoda. (Cited from official site.)

The fact that Toji was given means that the Buddhism of Kukai was acknowledged by the public. The appearance of name of “Shingon sect” in the official document was after Kounin 14 and we can see Shingon sect opened in this year. And Kukai dedicated himself in making Toji as Esoteric Buddhism Root Dojo.

Illustration by Kukai


Kukai regarded Koyasan as fetal world naming it “village of enlightenment”. In contrast, he regarded Toji as Kongokai and he enshrined the statue of Kongokai Mandara in the hall. It is so called three-dimensional mandara in Toji.


image of three-dimensional mandara

Fetal world expresses the world of enlightenment and comfort and also expresses the mercy perspective of Vairocana the Esoteric Buddhist priest. “Venter” is called “Galva” in Sanskrit, which means womb. Like every creature is raised in the mother’s womb, it is the fetal world where all things are wrapped up in Vairocana. It is the fetal world that expressed that like mothers bring up their children with deep love all things are wrapped up in deep mercy of Vairocana.

In contrast, Kongokai expresses the real world where all things are constantly changing and also expresses the perspective of wisdom of Vairocana. The wisdom of Vairocana is as hard as diamond and what destroys all earthly desires. And all existences and all phenomenon are thought as what the wisdom of Vairocana developed.

↓What indicated this with figure is so called Mandara of the Two Worlds.


This fetal world and Kongokai is actually the identical body, what we see the world from the perspective of enlightenment of comfort is fetal world and what we see it from the perspective of motion that all things are constantly changing by working wisdom is Kongokai.
The Kukai ideal was that he discovered the spiritual power gained in Koyasan in Toji and bring people to the world of enlightenment (Koyasan).

As explained, Toji expresses the Esoteric Buddhist priest and the state of Kongokai that the wisdom of Vairocana developed and is in the opposite relations to Koyasan. Incidentally, the five-storied pagoda, the Toji’s landmark tower, (the height of it 55 meter) can be said the Vairocana itself. Inside the first layer of the five-storied pagoda, the Esoteric Buddhism space colored in full color is spreading. Shinbashira that penetrates each layer of the five-storied pagoda is as Vairocana circled its surrounding by Tathagata of the four gods and Bodhisattva of Hachison. In addition to this, Kongokai Mandara was depicted on the four-side walls.

Toji that welcomes us in the entrance of Kyoto. It is telling us such a truth silently. Every time I see Toji I always think so.

All events that are happening in this world is caused by the development of the wisdom of Vairocana.
Letters written in books, the cars driving on the road, the work companions who work hard in the interest of others and all activities and phenomenon in this real world are important truth that Vairocana is showing us. We all can live by the wisdom Vairocana shows us.

Vajrayana Dainichi Nyorai

Kongokai Dainichi Nyorai Map.


Toji (Toji Gokokuji)

  • Location: 〒601-8473 Kyoto city Minami district Kujo town-1
  • TEL:075-691-3325
  • FAX:075-662-0250
  • URL
  • Viewing hours: Kondo, the hall: From 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. (4:30 P.M. end of reception)
    Treasure house, Kanchi-in Temple: From 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. (4:30 P.M. end of reception)

Reference books

“Esoteric Buddhism” (written by Comprehensive Buddhism Encyclopedia editing committee “Comprehensive Buddhism Encyclopedia” published in 1987 by Hozokan).
“Introductory of Kukai” writer: Seiichi Kato (published in 2012 by Kadokawa Gakugei Shutpan)
“Easy to understand Shingon sect- accompanied by important scripture “(published in 2017 KADOKAWA Ltd.)





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