The Buttsuji River originates in the vicinity of Hakura, Kui-cho, former
Mitsugi-gun (present Mihara City). Upon entering Mihara City, it runs low and
eventually joins the Nuta River in Hongo-cho, Toyota-gun (present MIhara City).
The area around the Buttsuji River is called the Buttsuji Valley. It is known for
some of the most spectacular combinations of steep mountains and deep valleys
in Hiroshima Prefecture.
Buttsuji Temple was built in 1397, when Haruhira Kobayakawa, then landlord of
the Nuta manor, invited a Daitsuzenshi monk, Shukyu Guchu. It was a major
Buddhist temple of the Rinzai Sect and named after the Zen monk Buttsu, who
was the mentor of Shukyu. The temple once had as many as 88 temples in this
mountain area and 3,000 branch temples and was in full flourish during the late
medieval era. The Gankiin Jizodo, guardian deity hall, and Kaisando give some
idea of their original configuration at the time of construction.
It is said that the Inumaki tree, 20 meters high, was planted by Shukyu. Temple
buildings stand close together, surrounded by dense old cedar trees. The temple,
which attracts people year round, is well known for its cherry blossoms in spring
and maple leaves in fall. There is a campsite in the vicinity, and the Chugoku
Nature Trail has the temple as one of its featured scenic spots.
Buttsuji Temple is located in unity with the surrounding natural environment (Photograph taken circa 1994)
Shukyu Guchu, whose Zen Buddhist name was Daitsu, was originally from Mino Province (now southern Gifu Prefecture). Although he studied Zen Buddhism at the Five Zen Temples in Kyoto, he was not satisfied and later went to China. There he learned Zen from his mentor Buttsu. After returning to Japan, he stayed away from the Five Zen Temples, and introduced the new wave of Zen. The Buttsuji Temple houses his portrait as a high monk, in which he poses with his right hand on his head. Drawn by Haruhira Kobayakawa, it was titled "Shukyu the Ailing Monk" by Shukyu himself.