|Honzon (principal image):
Nyoirin Kannon:Originally there were two principal images enshrined at Seigantoji: the Nyoirin Kannon that is enshrined in the Hondō; and a Senjū Kannon that was enshrined in a temple at the foot of the waterfall, which was destroyed during the Meiji Restoration when Buddhist elements were removed from Shintō shrines. The Nyoirin Kannon, enshrined in the Hondō is the principal image of veneration; it is a secret image shown once a year, on August 17th. This is a 3-meter high wooden image that was carved by Shobutsu Shonin during the reign of Empress Suiko (reigned 592 – 628); inside the chest cavity there is a small golden image of Kannon said to be just “1 sun 9 bu” (about 6 cms). This tiny golden Kannon was said to be the personal image that Ragyō the hermit enshrined in his hermitage in the 4th century. However, it is more likely to have been the personal image belonging to Empress Suiko. It is unusual because it has six arms and usually images of Nyoirin Kannon have only four arms.
Photo courtesy of Sanjiro Minamikawa
The altar and maedachi of Nyoirin Kannon
The secret image is enclosed in the special zushi shrine behind
This delightful gilt bronze image, dating from the Hakuhō period (646 – 710), is one of the oldest statues of Kannon in Japan. It was excavated from under the sutra mound near the entrance to Nachi Falls in 1918.
Also found in the sutra mound was this beautifully preserved gilt bronze image of Dainichi Nyorai, dating from the Fujiwara period (898 – 1195). Known in Sanskrit as the Maha-Vairocana – Universal Buddha of Light, he is shown in a seated position with the Kongokai mudra. This deity is the key figure of veneration within the Japanese Esoteric Buddhist tradition.