Daiko-in was inaugurated in 1613 by Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616) for prosperity of his clan and to pray for the soul of Nitta Yoshishige (1135-1202), his earliest ancestor. In the back of the temple grounds are Donryu and Nitta Yoshishige's final resting places. Tokugawa Ieyasu was the one who installed Donryu as the first head priest of this temple. Donryu was born in 1556 in present-day Kasukabe City, Saitama. He was a priest at Shiba Zojoji in Tokyo and was a disciple of Kanchikokushi priest at the time of his appointment.
Donryu worked hard as the head of Daiko-in. Among his job responsibilities were kankin silent sutra chanting, giving lectures and preaches, etc. Many young priests came to Daiko-in to train under him. Farmers in the area also followed his teachings faithfully. As such, Daiko-in became very popular. However, in the time just after the civil war (1467-1590), people's hearts were all shaken up, and natural disasters turned the area into impoverished communities. People were not able to raise their children (not all of them anyway) so abandoning and even killing of newborn babies was commonly practiced. Donryu was extremely concerned about this situation. He took in the unwanted or abandoned children and raised them as disciples at his temple. As time passed, villagers started to call Daiko-in "Kosodate Donryu". People worship the temple deeply to this day.
In Heian Era (794-1185), there was a large-scale manor called Niitanosho in the area. Farmers sent their rice and other crops to Kyoto, the capital of Japan at the time, as taxes. Some of the remains of relevant facilities are still intact. Choraku-ji Temple, Serada Toshogu & Ikushina Jinja Shrines are among them. Ojima, a part of the city of Ota, is known as the birthplace of the Tokugawa clan. Remembering the history of the area in Heian and Edo periods, by taking a visit to temples & shrines, museums, and historical and cultural facilities in Ota is very much recommended.
In the back of the temple grounds, where the final resting places of Donryu and Nitta Yoshishige are located, you will find two separate walking paths leading to Kanayama Castle and Kinryuji Temple. Kinryu-ji is the parish temple of Yokose clan, the owner of Kanayama Castle. (This medieval castle is the city's another symbol and a designated national historical relic site.) Both of these paths are ideal for walking, as the area is very quiet and offers a tranquil autumn color landscape.
Kikka Taikai is a chrysanthemum show/fair usually held in late fall. Chrysanthemum shows/fairs are held throughout Japan around this time. At Daiko-in, they have bonsai chrysanthemums, too, and the temple grounds are lit up in the evening.
Location: 37-8 Kanayama-cho, Ota
Contact: 0276-47-1833 (Shogyo Kanko-ka, Ota City Hall)