Coming down Mount Oiwa In Fushimi, Kyoto, at the bottom of the hill path is a small hut, a stone monument and the location of Kobo Daishi’s cane water. Kukai, posthumously known as Kobo Daishi, is probably the most famous and influential figure in the history of Buddhism in Japan. Born in the late 8th century in present day Kagawa, Shikoku, Kukai as well as being a philosopher and religious leader, was also known as a poet, an artist, and a calligrapher. A widely travelled monk, it is said that at this place (pictured below right ) Kukai hit the ground with his cane stick and spring water began to flow from the ground.
This legend is not unique to this location and there are other places in Japan where the same story is told. More reading on Kukai is recommended to discover his interesting life and achievements. It is said that a while after his death his tomb was opened and his body was found as if sleeping, his hair had grown, and his body had not decomposed. His followers say that he is not dead but simply meditating whilst he waits for the coming of Maitreya, the future Buddha.
And Kukai's supernatural stories are not limited to making spring water appear from the ground. A sub-temple of Kyoto Sennyuji, Imakumano Kannon Temple (also known as Shin Nachisan Imakumano Kannon-Ji) is the 15th temple of the West Japan 33 Kannon Temple Pilgrimage. There are a number of stories as to the origin of the temple, all surround the afore mentioned Kukai. One such story is that Kukai carved a stone statue of Kannon and enshrined it here. Kannon is a Bodhisattva, a being who is able to achieve Nirvana but delays doing so through compassion for other’s sufferings. Another story is that Kukai saw purple clouds over the mountain here to which he was drawn. Below the clouds he found a white-haired old man. The old man claimed to be the god of Kumano (the roots of the Kumano faith revolve around the natural environment). The god is said to have given Kukai a statue of Kannon Bosatsu (The God of Mercy) and asked him to protect this place.