Temples & Shrines: Shakuzoji Temple (Kuginuki Jizo), Kyoto
Kuginuki Jizo 釘抜地蔵
Kuginuki means "nail pulling" (as in carpentry nails) and refers to the legend of a merchant in 1556 who lived near the temple and felt terrible pains in both his hands. After praying to the Boddhisattva Jizo for relief, the demi-god appeared to him in a dream and told the sufferer that in a former life he had pierced the hands of an effigy of a man he hated.
The spirit of his former enemy was now seeking revenge, so the man offered a set of eight inch nails and a pair of pliers to the temple in an act of atonement for this long-forgotten sin.
The pain subsequently disappeared and ever since people with aches and pains have been offering nails and pliers attached to a wooden board to the temple.
The main hall of Shakuzoji Temple is covered with these wooden boards of nails and pliers and the motif can also be seen on the paper lanterns (chochin) in the temple.
Behind the small Honden (Main Hall) are other images including a stone image of Amida dating from 1225 and carved from a single stone, a modern standing image of the Jizo, and a statue of Kannon, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy.
The temple is popular with old folk seeking relief from their ailments and with young mothers and their children who relax in the quiet grounds in what is a busy, built-up area of the city.
Judith Clancy's book Exploring Kyoto: On Foot in the Ancient Capital is an excellent guide to this fascinating and relatively little-visited area of Kyoto.
Kuginuki Jizo Access - how to get to Kuginuki Jizo in Kyoto
Tel: 075 414 2233
Kuginuki Jizo is located on the east side of Senbon Dori north of Imadegawa.