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In 807, Kukai revisited this site and at the request of Emperor Saga ( 786-842 ) carved the main deity and enshrined it here. During the Kamakura period ( 1192-1333 ), this temple prospered as a place of learning and featured numerous buildings. Later, during the 16th Century, Motochika Chosokabe care here and took Iyo, Sanuki and Awa provinces, and as part of this campaign, he burned down Unpenji.
It was founded by Kukai in 822 at the request of Emperor Saga and was originally administered by both Tendai and Shingon sects, becoming a large center for religious academic learning. Most of the buildings were burned down by the troops of Chosogabe. The Main Hall was rebuilt in the early 1600s. The large camphor tree at the bottom of the steps if said to have been planted by Kukai.
In 703, a monk called Nissho had a vision during which the god Hachiman appeared on a ship playing a koto. Nittsu took the ship and koto and enshrined them on the summit of Mt. Kotohiki ( `harp-playing` ). Kukai later visited here, and carved the Amida Nyorai statue. During the separation of Shintoism and Buddhism, it was moved to the Kan-nonji ( No.69 ).
Nissho also founded this temple which is beside Temple 68. When Kukai came in 807, he carved the main deity and built a sanctuary to enshrine it on the side of the mountain. Kukai increased the number of buildings and changed the name to Kanonji.
In 807, Kukai founded and constructed this temple according to the wish of Emperor Heizei ( 774-824 ). It is said that this temple has always avoided destruction, and there are various legends regarding the buildings being protected by a statue of Amida or a swarm of bees. The Main Hall is designated as a National Treasure.
Gyoki founded this temple and it was originally called `Eight Province Temple` ( Yakuni-dera ) because from here one can see eight surrounding provinces. When Kukai revisited in 807, he participated in the gumonji-ho rite and changed its name. This temple is attributed with the most miracle cures as seen by the number of crutches and other paraphernalia left here.
This temple, built in 596 and originally called Yozakaji, was the clan temple for the Saeki family - the ancestors of Kukai. After his return from China, Kukai dedicated the Kongokai and Taizokai Mandala and changed the name of the temple to Mandalaji.
According to legend, Kukai, at the age of seven, climbed the mountain ( 481m ) and said, "I want to enter the world of Buddhism and save many people. If it is not possible for this wish to come true, I command that Shaka Nyorai appear. If not, I will throw away my life." He then jumped off a cliff and Shaka Nyorai and a heavenly being appeared and saved his life. As a result, he carved a statue, constructed temple buildings, and founded this temple.
When Kukai was thinking of constructing a temple between Zentsuji and Mandalaji, an old man appeared from a cave at the foot of Mt. Koyama saying, "If you build a temple here, I will protect it forever." The building costs were provided by the Emperor as payment for his direction of the building of the Mannoike Pond.
Zentsuji Temple is the birth place of Kukai ( posthumously named Kobo Daishi, 774-835 ) and Zentsuji City has developed to meet the needs of visitors to this site. Along with Kongobuji on Mt. Koyasan ( Wakayama pref. ) and Toji temple in Kyoto, it is one of the three most important sites related to Kukai. The temple grounds are large and there are many interesting sites to see. For example, the Kaidan-meguri is a 90-meter long under the Main Hall which must be walked through in total darkness.