A temple founded by Prince Shotoku, where tigers greet visitors
Chougosonshiji Temple has vast grounds in the middle of Mount Shigi, the name of which means a "reliable precious mountain" (the characters used for "Shigi" means "believe" and "precious"). The temple was founded by Prince Shotoku, an important politician who built the foundation of the state of Japan in the Asuka Period (592-710). Because the temple is related to the tiger of the Chinese Zodiac, which is used for the calendar, time and direction, the grounds of the temple are filled with figures of tigers. At the entrance, Fukutora, the world's largest papier-mache tiger, greets visitors. The principal Buddhist image housed at the temple is Vaisravana, which is the god of prosperity for family business, happiness and contentment, and is known familiarly as the Shigi-san No Bishamon-san (Vaisravana of Mount Shigi).
Santora No Fuku Tainai Meguri on the approach is a blessed facility, where visitors can be bestowed with happiness by walking through the open mouth of a tiger, and stepping on sands from the hallowed grounds of the 88 temples in Shikoku, buried in the ground. There is also kaidan meguri in the main hall, a facility wherein visitors walk through a pitch-dark corridor, feeling their way along the wall. This training is to reflect on yourself and shake off your sins.
Shigisan-Engi, a national treasure that was produced in this temple, is counted as one of the Four Representative Picture Roles in Japan, together with Choju-Jinbutsu-Giga. This picture scroll is sometimes attributed as the origin of Sci-fi anime, or referred to as the most exiting picture scroll in Japan, and is precisely one of the roots of manga culture in Japan.
Address: Shigisan, Heguri-cho, Ikoma County, Nara
Directions: By train: Take the Nara Kotsu Bus bound for Shigisan for 9 minutes from Kintetsu Shigisan-shita Station (50 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station); get off at Shigisan, then walk for 15 minutes to the destination
By car: 30 miuntes from Kashiba Interchange or Horyuji Interchange Nishi-maihan Expressway