Komyo-ji Temple is a branch of Eikando Zenrin-ji Temple, the head temple of Jodo-shu Seizan Zenrin-ji school.An old record says Komyo-ji was founded as a temple of Tendai-shu sect by Great Teacher (Daishi) Jikaku Ennin during the years of Jowa (834-847).
In the late Kamakura era (February 1336), when General Ashikaga Takauji came westward from Kyoto (old time capital of Japan), one of his followers, Father (Shonin) Dososokyu stayed at Komyo-ji to relieve people from fears and anxieties. The Shonin assisted Priest Chikai of Komyo-ji, and, working as the chief priest, revived the temple's glory; he also converted the temple to Jodo-shu (Pure Land Sect of Buddhism).
In 1337, Priest Koa of Kairyu-ji Temple in the province of Kishu (Wakayama Prefecture) presented Komyo-ji with a portrait of Honen Shonin, the founder of Jodo-shu. (The portrait was designated in 1962 as an important cultural property of Hiroshima Prefecture.) Since then, the temple has been prosperous as a Buddhist sutra school both in name and reality.
In the Muromachi period, Komyo-ji received support from the Miyachi family, who were leaders of Murakami maritime warriors in the Seto Inland Sea. Shimazui Jiro Sukenaga -- the second son of Miyachi Akemitsu and the lord of Yosaki Castle on Mukaishima Island -- donated to Komyo-ji a thousand-armed statue of Guanyin (Goddess of mercy), or, in Japanese, "Senju Kannon" (A K A "Namiwake Kannon"). Legend says that Sukenaga used to worship the statue in his ship and was always saved from danger. (The statue was designated in 1899 as a national important cultural property). Among warriors and general public, Komyo-ji was the anchorage of faith in Buddhism.
In the early Edo period, the Mohri family, who governed the Chugoku district, were faithful devotees of Jodo-shu. After leaving Hiroshima Castle, Mohri Terumoto moved to Hagi (located in Yamaguchi Prefecture), accompanied by Ikkuu, the priest of Komyo-ji at the time.
With the proclamation of the "Marine Suppression Order" by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1588, many of the maritime warriors gave up the status of samurai, and worked as merchant providing sea transportation services.
Komyo-ji enjoyed patronage from shipping tycoons such as Karatsu-ya, Ohgon-ya, Sumi-ya, Ogurihara-ya, and Iwashi-ya, all of whom played important roles in the politics and economy of Onomichi in the Edo period.
The kuri (priest's living quarter) of the temple was rebuilt during the years of Genroku (1688-1703), the hojo (abbot's chamber) was remodeled in Kyoho 17 (1732), and the hondo (main hall) was reconstructed in the fourth year of Enkyo (1747). Thus, the temple was entirely reshaped by the middle of the Edo period.
For nearly twelve centuries since the foundation by Jikaku-Daishi Ennin, and for nearly seven centuries since the conversion to Jodo-shu by Dososokyu-Shonin, Komyo-ji has been serving as a nembutsu seminary for Jodo-shu and also as a site for all manner of religious rites and memorial services.