Religious storyArima Onsenji Engi
- Once upon a time, a monk named Gyooki lived in Koya-dera (present-day Hyogo Prefecture) located in Settsu Province. Gyooki was endeared by many as a Bodhisattva Buddhist saint, as he gave his charity to the poor and aided those in difficulty. One day, Gyooki learned that there was a dilapidated onsen hot springs nearby. This was an onsen named “Arima,” and although it was effective for illnesses, wounds, and injuries, the road to the onsen was closed off completely because of its location in the mountain. Gyooki had a revelation. “I am going to open the road, build a temple, and heal sick and injured people at Arima Onsen!” Gyooki set out on his travels right away.
- As Gyooki made his way into the mountain path, he heard groaning. A man who was covered from head to toe in scabs and pus had lost his way, and had almost no energy. Evidently, he wanted to go to the hot springs of Arima. Gyooki offered the man his own food, but the ill man stated that he could not eat anything other than “cooked, fresh fish.” Thus, Gyooki went to the shore of Nagasu, and caught live fish. He then returned to the ill man, and cooked the fish for him. When he brought the fish to the ill man’s mouth to feed him, the man said that he wanted to season the fish with salt. Gyooki seasoned it as requested, and after taking a bite to taste it, fed it to the ill man. The man flung half of that fish into Koyaike pond, where it resurrected. The fish’s children and grandchildren are said to be living to this day.
- The pus on the ill man’s body was also infested with maggots, and the ill man told Gyooki that he wanted Gyooki to lick the maggots off his body with his tongue. Gyooki obeyed and licked the pus off the ill man’s body, and removed the maggots. All of a sudden, the ill man’s body started to shine a golden color. When a bright light shone on his body, what appeared was not the ill man, but the Healing Buddha. “Gyooki, you were put through a test. The ill man was actually me, but in a different form.” The Healing Buddha praised Gyooki’s benevolent actions. The Healing Buddha told Gyooki to open the road to Arima Onsen, and to help people suffering from illnesses and injuries. Then, he disappeared into thin air.
- With such a miracle before his eyes, Gyooki’s heart was trembling. As he climbed the mountain of Arima as he was told, he was able to find the hot springs. There, he carved a soapstone into a Buddhist statue in the image of the Healing Buddha, and transcribed the Lotus Sutra. He cast both into the bubbling springs of the onsen, whence they sunk to the bottom. A magnificent temple was constructed there, and the road to Arima was open once again. As Gyooki faced the stone Healing Buddha, he offered a prayer. “I pray that the people who enter this onsen are all healed of their illness, and that their lives are made longer. I pray that they are cleansed of even the scum of their worldly passions, and they reach enlightenment…” As hot springs that are effective for illnesses, people started to flock to Arima Onsen, and the name of Arima came to be known throughout the country.