A temple with a singular history on Miyajima
It is a 20-minute walk from Miyajima Pier going past Itsukishima Shrine. The temple is built on top of a slightly elevated hill as you enter Mt. Misen. It is a 1200-year-old temple on Miyajima that has also been involved in the administration and operation of Itsukishima Shrine since ancient times. Daisho-in is not only known for having a connection with the Imperial family through having such things as a prayer hall built on Emperor Toba’s command and the accommodations for Emperor Meiji when he visited the temple, but it is also famous for attracting strong worship from men of power over the centuries such as the shogun Kiyomori Taira, Hideyoshi Toyotomi and Hirobumi Ito. In 2006, with the visit of the Dalai Lama to take part in a grand memorial service to commemorate the temple’s 1200 years, Daisho-in is Miyajima’s most prominent temple.
Large grounds that take a leisurely 2-3 hours to navigate
Henjokutsu Cave is located underneath Daishi-do Hall, the oldest building on the temple grounds. The principal images of the 88 temples of the pilgrimage route on Shikoku are enshrined here, and in front of each image, sand from each of the temples is placed. It is said that stepping on the sand will bring good fortune just as if you were on that pilgrimage of the 88 temples. Also, the temple has many other highlights that could take as long as 2 to 3 hours to see such as Ichigan Daishi which will answer only one wish, Chokugan-do Hall where Namikiri Fudomyoo is enshrined and where Hideyoshi Toyotomi prayed for absolute victory during the Imjin War, and Daishi-do Hall where the monk Kobo Daishi who established Mt. Misen is enshrined.
The roles of the temple to preside over the festivals of Itsukishima Shrine
Up until the separation of Buddhism and Shinto in the Meiji Era, the festivals at Itsukishima Shrine were administered by Daisho-in Temple. For example, the summer festival Tamatori-sai and the New Year’s Eve ritual Chinka-sai that occur as the shrine’s events actually have their origins from Daisho-in. The Hiwatari-shiki (Fire Crossing) Festival that used to be held at Mt. Mizen Main Hall takes place twice a year in April and November at Daisho-in. Many people gather as cypress leaves are lit and the people walk over the embers in their bare feet in the hopes for their prayers to be answered.