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Tenkai-ji

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  • Established: c. 1450-1456
  • Other Names: 妙高山 (Myoukou-zan)
  • Japanese/Okinawan: 天界寺 (Tenkai-ji / Tinkei-ji)

Tenkai-ji was a Rinzai Zen temple in Shuri, the capital of the Ryûkyû Kingdom. It was one of three royal temples in the city, along with Engaku-ji and Tennô-ji.

The temple is said to have been founded by King Shô Taikyû around 1450-1456, and enshrined the unmarried princes and princesses of the Second Shô Dynasty, as well as holding the mortuary tablets of Kings Shô Taikyû and Shô Toku of the First Shô Dynasty. The founding abbot was the Zen master Keiin. The temple was destroyed in a fire in 1576, but was later reconstructed, the temple grounds covering an area of roughly 1,080 tsubo. A Kannon Hall, which came to be known as "Shuri Kannon-dô," was established a short distance away in 1616, as a branch temple of Tenkai-ji. It is today attached to the temple of Jigen-in.

Following the overthrow of the kingdom, the temple was transformed around 1913 into the Mitunchi (三殿内), a shrine incorporating shrines of the three Ufanshitari (大阿母志良礼), high priestesses of Shuri, Gibo, and Makabe. This shrine was destroyed in the 1945 Battle of Okinawa, and the temple grounds became a residential area. However, when Shuri Castle was reconstructed in 1992, the former site of Tenkai-ji was incorporated into the Shurijo Castle Park. The temple has not been reconstructed, but a well dug in 1697 on the temple grounds does survive. The site is now home to a rest center and administrative building, and is identified as the former site of Tenkai-ji by a plaque.

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