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Kannon as shown in leaflet from Tsubosakadera TempleTHIS IS A SIDE PAGE
Return to Main Kannon Page or
Return to Pilgrimage Guide

KAMAKURA PILGRIMAGE
TO 33 SITES SACRED TO KANNON
KANNON BOSATSU 観音菩薩 (Skt. Avalokitesvara)
GODDESS OF MERCY; Origin India
Help for People in Distress in Earthly Realm

According to the Lotus Sutra, Kannon appears in 33 different manifestations to alleviate the suffering of all living beings. Although the Kamakura Pilgrimage does not feature statues from all 33 manifestations, there are nonetheless 33 old and famed temples sacred to Kannon in Kamakura. It has long been believed that visiting these temples in order is an act of great merit. The following is the order of the Kamakura 33 Kannon Pilgrimage, which was probably established sometime in the 13th or 14th century AD. See 100 Kannon Pilgrimages Nationwide for more details.

KAMAKURA PILGRIMAGE TO 33 SITES SACRED TO KANNON

Order

Temple

Type of Kannon

1

Sugimoto-dera 杉本寺

Eleven-Headed 十一面観音 天台宗

2

Hōkaiji 宝戒寺

Juntei 准胝

3

An-yō-in 安養院

Thousand-Armed 千手観音  曹洞宗

4

Hase-dera 長谷寺

Eleven-Headed 十一面観音

5

Raikōji (Nishi-mikado) 来迎寺

Nyoirin 如意輪観音

6

Zuisenji 瑞泉寺

Thousand-Armed 千手観音

7

Kōsokuji (Juniso) 光触寺

Shō 聖観音

8

Myō-ō-in 明王院

Eleven-Headed 十一面観音

9

Jōmyōji 浄妙寺

Shō 聖観音

10

Hōkokuji 報国寺

Shō 聖観音

11

Enmeiji 延命寺

Shō 聖観音

12

Kyō-onji 教恩寺

Shō 聖観音

13

Betsuganji 別願寺

Gyoran 魚籃

14

Raikōji (Zaimokuza) 来迎寺

Shō 聖観音

15

Kōfukuji 向福寺

Shō 聖観音

16

Kuonji 九品寺

Shō 聖観音

17

Fudarakuji 補陀洛寺

Eleven-Headed 十一面観音

18

Kōmyōji 光明寺

Nyoirin 如意輪観音

19

Renjō-in (Kōmyōji) 蓮乗院 光明寺

Eleven-Headed 十一面観音

20

Senju-in (Kōmyōji) 千手院 光明寺

Thousand-Armed 千手観音

21

Jōju-in 成就院

Shō 聖観音

22

Gokurakuji 極楽寺

Nyoirin 如意輪観音

23

Kōtoku-in 高徳院

Shō 聖観音

24

Jufukuji 寿福寺

Eleven-Headed 十一面観音

25

Jōkōmyōji 浄光明寺

Thousand-Armed 千手観音

26

Kaizōji 海蔵寺

Eleven-Headed 十一面観音

27

Myōkō-in (Kenchōji) 妙高院

Shō 聖観音

28

Kenchōji 建長寺

Thousand-Armed 千手観音

29

Ryūhō-in (Kenchōji) 龍峰院・建長寺

Shō 聖観音

30

Meigetsu-in 明月院

Shō 聖観音

31

Jōchiji 浄智寺

Shō 聖観音

32

Tōkeiji 東慶寺

Shō 聖観音

33

Butsunichi-an (Engakuji) 円覚寺・仏日庵

Eleven-Headed 十一面観音

Click here for a complete list of the famous nationwide pilgrimage to 100 Sites
Sacred to Kannon. Sugimoto-dera, the first temple on the Kamakura Pilgrimage, is also the
starting point of the 33 Kannon Bandō Pilgrimage covering Tokyo & neighboring prefectures
.

Buddhism for the Common Folk. The three deities Amida, Kannon, and Jizō, became especially popular among the common folk during the Kamakura Period, and today remain the bedrock of folk Buddhism. Amida for the coming life in paradise, Kannon for salvation in earthly life, and Jizō for salvation from hell. See From Court to Commoner Buddhism in the Kamakura Era.

Why Number 33 ? The Kannon Sutra (chapter 25 of the Lotus Sutra) mentions 33 specific forms of the Kannon. But it is unclear why the number 33 was used. One theory relates to the Buddhist realm Mt. Shumisen 須弥山 (Skt. = Mt. Sumeru, Mt. Meru) from Hindu mythology. In this heavenly palace of the Buddha and all followers, there are 33 deities who guard and protect the realm. They are commanded by Taishakuten (Skt. = Indra), who governs the other 32 gods who live on the 32 peaks of Sumeru, eight in each of the four directons. Taishakuten’s palace is known as Zenkenjō 善見城 (Palace of Correct Views); also called Kikenjō (Joyful to See), located in the Buddhist heaven called Trayastriṃśas (Skt.) atop Mt. Shumisen. Also, probably related to the 32 realms of Vedic mythology and to the 32 Marks of the Buddha. The Shitennō (Four Heavenly Kings) live halfway down the four sides of Mt. Shumisen, the mythical home of Shakya Nyorai (Historical Buddha). According to Buddhist lore, Mt. Shumisen is found at the center of the universe, surrounded by eight mountain ranges, and in the ocean between the 7th and 8th there are four continents inhabited by humans. These four continents are protected by the Shitennō, with each leading an army of supernatural creatures to keep the fighting Ashura at bay. On the top of Mt. Shumisen is the heavenly palace of Shakya Nyorai, and the abode of the Trayastrimsha (33 Gods) ruled by Taishakuten, who commands the Shitennō.

33 Kannon Pilgrimages. In Japan, there are numerous 33-site pilgrimage circuits sacred to Kannon. Among the best known are the Saigoku Pilgrimage to 33 sites (Kansai area), the Bandō Pilgrimage to 33 sites (Kanto area), and the Chichibu Pilgrimage to 34 sites (Saitama Valley). Together these 100 nationwide sites are extremely sacred to Kannon, and making the circuit to each in proper order is said to save the believer from hell and to open the gates to everlasting life. The 33 forms of Kannon given in the Lotus Sutra are the basis for these pilgrimage circuits. For those who cannot spare the time, miniature circuits (wherein pilgrims can visit 33 images within a single temple compound, like that at Ishiyamadera) are available. In all these pilgrimages, the forms of Kannon don’t match the 33 forms of the Lotus Sutra, but instead feature popular Kannon manifestations such as the 1000-Armed Kannon, the 11-Headed Kannon,  the Nyoirin Kannon, and the Shō Kannon.

This is a Side Page
Return to Main Kannon Page
or Return to Pilgrimage Guide

 

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