Crocodile Mouth of Kotoku-ji Temple
A Crocodile Mouth is an iron temple gong hung from the front eaves of shrines and temples that worshipers beat with a rope to sound a gong. Kotoku-ji Temple’s gong is 37.1 cm in diameter, made of casting copper and now enshrined in the main hall.
According to documents from 1807 that remain in Kotoku-ji Temple, a man named Hayato, who had deep faith in Haguro Daigongen in Dewa Province (Yamagata Prefecture), transferred the gong to Ohta Village and hung it there. One version of local history says that after the last of his family passed away, officials of Ohta Village and neighboring Koyama Village discussed the gong and decided it to fix it to Kotoku-ji Temple in 1721.
Another local oral tradition states that the gong was originally hung at Haguro Shrine located close to the border of Koyama Village, but the main shrine building burned down and the gong was transferred to Kotoku-ji Temple.
Koei 4 (1345), an era name of the Northern Court of the Northern and Southern Dynasty period and the oldest era name in Niigata Prefecture is marked on the rim of the gong. This is a valued historical artifact.