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Iwase Bunko Library was established as a private library in Nishio city.
Yasuke Iwase, a wealthy merchant, used his own funds and opened IBL in 1908.
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One million small pagodas & Mukujoukoukyoujishinindarani
The Nara era (710-794 CE)

Iwase Bunko Library is a museum of ancient books in Japan. They have over 80,000 ancient items and this pagoda is the oldest one. In the Nara era, the emperor Shotoku ordered one million small pagodas to be made for national peace. Each pagoda contains sutra in it and was delivered to Horyuji and other temples.
According to the book, Syoku-nihongi, that was in the 4th year of Jingokeiun which is the year 770 on the Christian calendar. Most of the pagodas are lost. Now there are only about 40,000 pagodas left in Horyu Temple.
This Darani is the oldest print in the world with the exact date known. This precious document shows the history of printing in Japan and East Asia.
In the Meiji era, the government’s mood toward temples became anti-Buddhist, so the temples had economic trouble. Therefore, Houryu Temple asked for donations in return for the one million small pagodas in 1908. This one at Iwase Bunko Library is the one the library’s founder, Yasuke Iwase, received when he donated 35 yen to Houryu Temple.
Darani is an incantation of Buddhism. Darani is an Indian word of Sanskrit and Kanji was simply chosen for the sound.
In the pagodas, there are various letters written in black ink and covered with white paint called “hakudo”. Though the words are illegible, “April of the third year” can be read. Therefore, it is assumed this pagoda was made in April of the Tenbyojingo era. The last half cannot be read but it may contain the name of the artisan or government official concerning this pagoda.
According to the book, Syoku-nihongi, 157 people were rewarded for the building of the one million small pagodas, so we understand this was a nation-wide project. It’s possible the name that cannot be read is one of those 157.