Shingon means “true word”. It was, sourced from the Vajrayana school, established by Kōbō Daishi around the 9th century and thereafter stands as cornerstone for the Shikoku Henro. “Mikkyō” as it is often called implies that it is a “secret study” originated from esoteric Buddhism. Its secrets studies are represented through the two Ryōkai Mandalas, the mandalas of the two worlds. The Taizōkai (the 5 Buddha mandala der 5 Buddhas, representing the book Dainichikyō) stands for Buddha’s teachings while the other, Kongōkai (the 5 king mandala, manifestation of the book Kongōchōkyō) stands for Buddha’s embodiment on earth. Therefore these two mandalas resp their teachings combine the entire realm of being as well as Buddha’s entire teachings. Due to their importance, these two mandalas are part of every temple yet they’re not always easily visible. However, their essence is science, their content infinite – as is the Universe.
There are 13 Shingon Deities (Jūsanbutsu 十三仏) which are important to the Japanese as they are invoked at the 13 memorial services held over a long period of time by the living for the dead. Traditionally, but not very commonly used anymore, the seven weeks following one’s death, the soul wanders around in places where it used to live. On the 50th day, however, the wandering soul must go to the realm where it is sentenced. The 49th day is thus the most important day, when the deceased receives his/her karmic judgment and, on the 50th day, enters the world of rebirth. A service is held to make the “passage” as favorable as possible. Prayers are thereafter offered at special intervals, and performed indefinitely starting in the 13th year.
Services at designated temples are being held as follows
- Fudō Myōō 不動明王 (7th day)
- Shaka Nyorai 釈迦 (14th day)
- Monju Bosatsu 文殊 (21st day)
- Fugen Bosatsu 普賢 (28th day)
- Jizō Bosatsu 地蔵 (35th day)
- Miroku Bosatsu 弥勒 (42nd day)
- Yakushi Nyorai 薬師 (49th day)
- Kannon Bosatsu 観音 (100th day)
- Seishi Bosatsu 勢至 (1st anniversary)
- Amida Nyorai 阿弥陀 (3rd anniversary)
- Ashuku Nyorai 阿閦 (7th anniversary)
- Dainichi Nyorai 大日 (13th anniversary)
- Kokūzō Bosatsu 虚空蔵 (33rd anniversary)