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Legends about the origin of Kiyomizu-dera Temple, emaki
Important Cultural Property
Painted by Tosa Mitsunobu, text hand-written by Sanjō Saneka, Kanroji Motonaga
3 scrolls
Color on paper
Muromachi period/Eishō 14 (1517)
Tokyo National Museum
This is a picture scroll that depicts the origin and history of the establishment of Kiyomizu-dera Temple and its principal deity, the Thousand-Armed Kannon, in three volumes and 33 acts based on the 33 forms that Kannon takes to aid sentient beings. According to historical materials of the same age, such as Sanetaka Koki, it is believed that this picture scroll was completed in 1520.
The first volume depicts a story from the religious awakening of Priest Kenshin (later the name was changed to Enchin) to the establishment of Kiyomizu-dera Temple together with Sakanoue no Tamuramaro to a punitive expedition to Ezo by Tamuramaro. The two attendants to Kiyomizu Kannon appeared in front of Tamuromaro, who was facing the huge number of Ezo troops, in the forms of an old man and an old priest and told him that they would support him. The middle volume depicts the scenes from thunder lightening and thunderclaps driving the Ezo troops away and Tamuramaro’s returning in triumph to his rebuilding of Kiyomizu-dera Temple in 811 and his death. The scene where the god of thunder strikes the enemy with lightening over the angry waves is particularly well-known as the best part of this picture scroll. The last volume unfolds good omens and miraculous wonders of the principal image, the Thousand-Armed Kannon.
Since there are no other picture scrolls containing battle scenes with the Ezo troops, such as those depicted in the first and middle volumes, this scroll is valuable as material that shows how people in the central part of Japan viewed Ezo (Tohoku area) in the early 16th century.