Tokoin Temple is said to have been built in 806 by Saicho (aka Dengyo Daishi). Originally a Tendai temple where Saicho preached, it became a Zen temple for a time before becoming a branch temple of Jotenji Temple, which is located near Hakata Station. In 1647, Tadayuki Kuroda, the second lord of the Fukuoka Domain, converted the temple to the Shingon sect of Buddhism, and that is when it was given the name Tokoin Temple (aka Yakuo Mitsuji). The commoners of the time were fervent believers and referred to the temple colloquially as Katakasu no Yakuo-sama, and even today, Tokomachi still exists as a place name in Fukuoka.
Tokoin Temple was a repository for numerous cultural assets. In addition to the standing statue of Yakushi Nyorai, the principal deity enshrined at the temple, Tokoin had 25 Buddhist statues designated by the national government as important cultural properties. There were also 15 paintings designated by Fukuoka Prefecture as cultural assets. As a religious entity, Tokoin was dissolved about 40 years ago, and these cultural properties were donated to Fukuoka City along with the temple grounds. The statues and paintings are now on display or in storage at the Fukuoka City Art Museum.
The items on display can be found in the Buddhist Art from Tokoin Temple Room, which is part of the museum’s permanent collection. These include the statue of Yakushi Nyorai, who is said to cure all kinds of illnesses and carries a pot of medicine in his left hand, and statues of the supporting bodhisattvas, Nikko Bosatsu and Gekko Bosatsu, who are responsible for assisting Yakushi Nyorai. There are also statues of the Twelve Divine Generals, who protect the believers of Yakushi Nyorai, as well as statues of Kongo Rikishi, the guardian deities that are enshrined at temple gates. The states are all well-preserved and serve as excellent representations of their original state.
The site where Tokoin was located, which has been designated as a historical site by the city, is beautifully maintained and open to the public. Today, the main hall, Seitendo Hall, Niomon Gate and a storehouse still remain, and visitors can enjoy strolling through the quiet temple precincts. The bronze statue on the temple grounds is the nun Kiyoto Taijun, the 19th and last abbess of Tokoin. She is the person who decided to donate everything to Fukuoka City to ensure that the precious and important cultural assets will be preserved for future generations.