Sakawa Koresada, a direct retainer of the Uesugi family, entered the main hall at Kenchoji and prayed to the Jizo-of-a-Thousand-Forms there. Then he asked the attendant monk in charge of the hall:
‘Of these thousand forms of Jizo, which is the very first Jizo?’
The attendant said, ‘In the breast of the retainer before me are a thousand thoughts and ten thousand imaginings; which of these is the very first one?’
The samurai was silent.
The attendant said again, ‘Of the thousand forms of Jizo, the very first Jizo is the Buddha-lord who is always using those thousand forms.’
The warrior said, ‘Who is this Buddha-lord?’
The attendant suddenly caught him and twisted his nose.
The samurai immediately had a realization.
(1) Which is the very first Jizo out of the thousand-formed Jizo?
(2) Which is the very first out of the thousand thoughts and ten thousand imaginings?
(3) What did Koresada realize when his nose was twisted?
This became a koan at the interviews of Koken, the 61st master at Kenchoji.