Tenshō-daijin Honji

Tenshō-daijin Honji (天照大神本地) is a Japanese otogi-zōshi in one book, composed in the early sixteenth century.


In the land of Haranai (はらなひ国), King Kentatsuha (けんたつは大王) longs for a son and prays to Kannon and is granted a son, Prince Meuon (めうをん太子).[1] Three years later, the queen dies, and when a new queen arrives she falls in love with the prince but is rebuked by him.[1] She grows to despise her stepson and plots against him, but he is saved by monks who are in reality manifestations of Buddhist deities such as Eleven-Faced Kannon and Chiichi-shōnin (ち一上人).[1] The king and prince journey to Ise Shrine in Japan by way of Magadha.[1] The king, whose true form (本地 honji) is Dainichi Nyorai, resides in the Inner Shrine [ja], and the prince, whose true form is Eleven-Faced Kannon, resides in the Outer Shrine [ja].[1] The prince's birth mother is Taga-daimyōjin, and Chiichi-shōnin is Kokūzō of Asamagatake [ja] (朝熊岳虚空蔵 Asamagatake Kokūzō).[1]

The main story of the work is followed by an elaboration on the oral traditions and origins of ceremonies related to the tale.[1]

Genre, date and sourcesEdit

Tenshō-daijin Honji is a work of the otogi-zōshi genre.[1] More specifically, it is a honji-mono (本地物), a work elaborating the continental (Indian) Buddhist origins of Japanese deities (kami) in accordance with the ideology of honji suijaku.[1] It is one of a number of works dealing with stepchildren (継子譚 keishi-tan).[1]

The work was probably completed by Daiei 2 (1522), as this date is mentioned in the text of the work itself.[1]

The theme of a stepmother's immoral love for her husband's child resembles the fourth story in Book IV of the Konjaku Monogatari-shū,[1] as well as the sermon Aigo no Waka.[1] The journey from India to Japan follows the pattern of Kumano no Honji (熊野の本地) and others,[1] and the name of the character Chiichi-shōnin resembles that of Chiken-shōnin (ちけん上人) in Kumano no Honji.[1] Kazuo Tokuda, in his article on the work for the Nihon Koten Bungaku Daijiten, remarks that these works could be considered a series of tales that elaborate on the religious beliefs and traditions of the Ise-Kumano-Taga, Shiga region.[1]

Textual traditionEdit

Tenshō-daijin Honji is in one book.[1] The work survives in a single manuscript copy in the holdings of the Keiō University Library.[1]

Modern editionsEdit

The work was printed in volume ten of the Muromachi-jidai Monogatari Taisei (室町時代物語大成).[1]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Tokuda 1983, p. 378.

Works citedEdit

  • Tokuda, Kazuo (1983). "Tenshō-daijin Honji". Nihon Koten Bungaku Daijiten 日本古典文学大辞典 (in Japanese). Vol. 4. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten. p. 378. OCLC 11917421.