Saimyoji temple is located in the outskirts of beautiful but sleepy town of Mashiko in Tochigi prefecture. The easiest way to get to Mashiko is to take the Toya Bus to Mashiko station from JR Utsunomiya Station. The bus ride takes about an hour and half from JR Utsunomiya.
Saimyoji temple is the twentieth temple in the Bando (33 Kannon temples of kanto region) pilgrimage circuit.
Saimyoji Temple Seal
Saimyoji temple, also known as Takko-san Fumon-in. It is a temple of the Busan Shingon Buddhist school. It's main revered figure is the eleven-faced (JuIchiMen) kannon bosatsu who achieved perfect freedom from egoism to arouse great compassion.
It was built in the 9th year of the Tempyo era (AD 737) by the great priest Gyoki Bosatsu with the backing of Ki Arimaro. (Ki being the old surname of the Mashiko ruling family)
Laughing Emma Hall (Emma-Do)
At it's height of influence in 782 it had twelve places of residence for monks. In 905, the main figure was re carved by the Master Eizan. In 1127, all the buildings were destroyed by fire, rebuilt in 1178, and destroyed again in 1351. The main hall was rebuilt in 1394. In 1701, the hall which houses the "Laughing Emma" (Emma-do) was built and Saimyoji looked much as it looks today. (Source: Temple brochure)
Most buildings in the precincts have a thatched roof style, which is rare to see in Japanese temples. The front gate was built in the Muromachi period and was built in the first year of the Meio Era (1492) in the Chinese Tang Dynasty style. There is a three storied pagoda in the precincts, which was built in the 6th year of the Temmon Era (1537) by Mashiko Iemune. It is a mixture of Chinese and Japanese architecture styles.