There is a beautiful legend about how a monk, who goes by the name of Nisshou, had a marvelous vision of the god Hachiman who appeared before him playing the koto. Hachiman told Nishou that he would stay at this temple to protect the Buddha’s Dharma (duty, religion, order of the cosmos… an untranslatable term, basically). Koubou Daishi painted the koto playing god Hachiman and dedicated it to this temple. It really is beautiful.
But, what is not so beautiful is this temple itself. I am sorry to say that, and maybe I am the only one who would, but this temple while housing a very beautiful legend, is not beautiful itself. Grey. Dull. Cold.
Concrete and box shaped, you will stand on a stairwell that could be the same we would find in most industrial buildings. The temple within is mostly invisible and you can peer through a small slate in the door to look within. Nevertheless, this is one of the temples on the route, so it is good to say your prayers, make your dedications, and move on to Kannonji.
When you come with your stamp book, the one office will give you stamps in your book for both Jinnein and Kannonji.
Jinnein’s reconstruction to its current form may be some attempt to modernize the Ohenro experience. I do not know, and I did not have a chance to inquire about its box-shape or how this came to be. The hesitancy to praise the construction shape of Jinnein does not come from a place that only the “ancient” is best and we should all live in museums. Far from it. In fact, many of the temples and sites along the Pilgrim’s path have newer temples, updated gates or buildings, and reflect the tone and style of modern thought and architecture. There are many successful blends of antiquity and modernity. But, somewhere along the line there was a “concrete box” phase of architectural evolution, and Jinnein may have been a victim to that grey boxy fad.