The Nyo-I Sickle of Enkakuji – Koan 32

Ujihira, a steward of the Hojo Regent, one day visited Enkakuji and told Bukko about the name Kamakura, which means literally Sickle-store (kama = sickle; kura = store):

In ancient times, there was born at Hitachi a man named Kamatari, and when he was young he went to the capital and served at the palace, where he assisted with great devotion in the great affairs of state. The Emperor Tenchi in the eighth year of his reign (669 AD) gave him the new name of Fujiwara, and his house prospered exceedingly. He undertook a pilgrimage to the shrine of Kashima in Hitachi, and on the way back stopped at the village of Yui in Musashi province, where he had a wonderful dream. As a token he buried a sickle (kama) at Matsugaoka of O-kura, and thereafter the place was called Kama-kura.

The teacher said: ‘That sickle – where is it now?’

The official said: ‘That was all long ago when the place belonged to the great Fujiwaras. No one would go searching for it now.’

The teacher said: ‘That sickle has found its way into the main temple at Enkakuji, and I can put my hand on it now.’

The officer drew in his breath with surprise, and asked to see it.

The teacher raised his ceremonial nyo-i metal stick vertically in the air.

Ujihira said: ‘But isn’t this a nyo-i?’

The teacher: ‘This fellow! How is it he can’t see the sickle which Lord Fujiwara saw in that dream?’

In the book of the sermons of the master Togaku at Enkakuji, it is said that when he presented this as a koan, he used to say,

‘Matsugaoka of Okura is not far off; in fact it is here under your feet. Is someone going to bury a sickle here? The sharp edge has never yet been hidden, look! Here it is clearly in front of your very eyes, look! If a spiritual hero can change iron into gold, why hesitate over changing a sickle into a nyo-i?’ And he would suddenly produce an old sickle and display it to them – ‘Look, look!’


(1) That sickle which Lord Fujiwara saw and created in his spirit, where is it now? Say!

(2) Lord Fujiwara’s sickle – who made it, and how?

(3) If you see it, say how long and how big it is.

(4) If you can use Lord Fujiwara’s sickle, show the receipt for it. Bring the proof!

This was first used as a koan at the interviews of Togaku, the 61st master at Enkakuji.



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