Staying small and quiet almost in the center of Japan within the precinct of the Lake Biwa, Chikubushima is considered as the second largest island in Biwa, just after the inhabited island Okishima. Not so far from the main land of Shiga prefecture, tourists from all directions enjoy overcoming the lake water to visit Chikubushima island. They have heard about some mystical energy hiding inside the lush woods covering the island very often then they want to come to directly experience the mysterious atmosphere over the island or else, just to get some benzaiten goddess happiness dolls sold on the island.
Chikubishima is a little island with circumference of just 2 kilometers and area of about 0.14 square kilometer. Almost all trees covering the island are conifers, staying vividly green throughout year. The soul creature of Chikubushima is cormorant, reaching the total amount of over 30000 birds living on the island. In some point of seeing, you can see the green coat of Chikubushima a little turning into brown as cormorant makes nest on the branches, sometimes the situation seems to be not so good when the trees are seriously ravaged by their habit. The south side with a temple, a shrine and several shops and cafe is the only accessible point of the island and all people working on the island do not live here but moving between the island and main land.
Japanese history called the name of Chikubushima island the very first time in some 1300 years ago. It is said that while the sun deity Amaterasu-sume-okami gave a sacred message to Emperor Shomu, Amaterasu-sume-okami mentioned a small island inside the lake Biwa, saying that the island was the divine destination of the deity Benzaiten descending from heaven. The Emperor obeyed the god to send the priest Gyoki to the island to build a temple here. Throughout its history, the temple was visited by many Imperial figures as well as well known Buddhist monks including Dengyo-daishi, Kobo-daishi and Jikaku-daishi. As many Buddhist practices were carried out, they lit up the island with the endless light of Buddhism.
Chikubushima is home land of Hogonji temple and Tsukubusumajinja shrine. Hogonji was constructed in 724 as the 30th stop in the“Pilgrimage to the 33 Sacred Places of Kannon in the Western Provinces. The Benzaiten hall built in 1942 is a remarkably gorgeous structure of cypress bark roof, housing a statue of Benzaiten, the God of every flowing things consisting of water and music. From the Kannondo hall of Hogonji, you can find a corridor called Funaroka Boat guiding you to Tsukubusumajinja shrine, splited from Hogonji in 1868 to dedicate the Shinto deities Azaihime-no-mikoto, Ichikishimahime-no-mikoto and Ugamitama-no-mikoto. Visitors come to these religious spots usually enjoy buying two dishes at Haiden hall with their names and their wishes written on each one then throwing them through the torri gate. As the dish goes under the gate, your wish will come true. You can also write your wish on paper and put it in daruma dolls in the shrine.