Jigenin Temple in Hineno, Izumisano City, Osaka Prefecture, is a temple belonging to the Omuro School of the Shingon Sect of Buddhism. The principal object of worship is Dainichi Nyorai. It is the 12th temple of the 18 Holy Places of Butto-koji (Old Temples with Pagodas).
The temple was established in 673 by a high-ranked priest named Kakugo by the order of Emperor Tenmu. It is said to be the oldest temple in the Senshu district of Osaka. Later in the Heian period, Kobo Daishi, the founder of the Shingon sect, stayed here and constructed many temple buildings including the original Tahoto pagoda and the Kondo hall.
The present Tahoto pagoda, constructed in 1271, is known for its beauty and compactness. It is said to be one of Japan’s three most distinctive pagodas, and is designated as a National treasure.
It is a 10.8-meter tall two-story pagoda with a cypress bark roof. The veranda without railing is build around the first floor. The door is made of a single, thick wooden plank. Windows with vertical wooden laths called “renji-mado” are set in the upper wall on both sides of the door. The bracket complex is composed of two steps. In the space between the bracket systems on the front side, a frog-leg strut is used for giving an accent. Though small in size, the essence and elegance of Japanese construction is condensed into this small pagoda.
Noma Daibo, or formally named Omidoji Temple, is a temple belonging to the Shingon sect of Buddhism. Its history dates back to the era ruled by Emperor Tenmu in the middle of the 7th century.
Noma Daibo is famous as the place where Minamoto no Yoshitomo, the father of Yoritomo and Yoshitsune, was killed unarmed when he was taking a bath. In 1159, Yoshitomo was defeated by the Taira clan in the Heiji Rebellion and escaped from Kyoto, heading for the east via Mino province and Chita Peninsula. In the village of Noma, Yoshitomo stayed at the residence of Osada Tadamune, Yoshitomo’s retainer Kamata Masakiyo’s father-in-law, who betrayed Yoshitomo for the reward from the Taira clan and killed him in the bathroom.
In the precinct is Yoshitomo’s grave, which is surrounded by wooden swaords, as it is said that Yoshitomo’s last words were “If only I had a wooden swaor, I wouldn’t have been killed.” It is also believed that one who dedicates a wooden sword here will have his prayer answered.
The Blood Pond, where the betrayes washed Yoshitomo’s head, and the ruins of the bathroom also remain in the precinct.
Katte Shrine located in Yoshinoyama, Yoshino-cho, Nara Pref. is one of the eight Myojin shrines in Yoshino. It enshrines Oyama Tsumi no Kami and Konohanasakuya-hime no Mikoto. Legend has it that in 672, when Prince Oama (later enthroned as Emperor Tenmu), who had stayed in Yoshino and gathered an army to battle with the crown prince, was playing the Japanese harp in front of the hall at this temple, a heavenly maiden appeared and showed him a lucky omen.
It is also said that in 1185, when Shizuka Gozen, who parted with Minamoto no Yoshitsune in Mt. Yoshino, was caught by the pursuers, she performed elegant dance in front of the hall at this shrine to make time for her husband to escape.
The main hall was once destroyed by fire and restored in 1776, but in 2005 it was burned down again by the fire of suspicious origin. Presently, only a part of wooden structure remains and there is little possibility of the restoration of this important cultural property.
Toyozumi Shrine located in Yui-cho, Ihara-gun, Shizuoka Pref. is a shrine with a long history since the ancient times. The enshrined deity is Konohana Sakuyahime no Mikoto. Opinion about its foundation is divided, but the information board in the precinct explains that it originally enshrined Toyoukebime, the deity of rich harvest, during the 7th century, but according to popularization of Asama worship (worship of the volcano god), the chief priest received the oracle in 791 and it began to enshrine Konohana Sakuyahime no Mikoto. In another historical record, it is written that the shrine was founded in 791. In either case, the shrine was listed on Engishiki (codes and procedures on national rites and prayers) in the Heian period (794-1192) as a shrine to worship Asama no Okami and was also called Toyozumi no Asama no Daimyojin. Otaiko Matsuri Festival held for three days from the New Year’s Day, originates in the old episode that Sakanoue Tamuramaro dropped in at this shrine on his way back from the conquering battles with the Emishi and had a feast to thank the god for his victory.
Hase Temple is the headquarters of the Shingon-Buzan sect and is located in Sakurai, Nara Prefecture. The name of the mountain on which it is located is Buzan-Kagurain (or Hatsuse or Buzan). The temple is the 8th of Saikoku's 33 Kannon spiritual spots.
In the 1st year of the Shucho period (686), Domyo Shonin built a three-storied tower to pray for the recovery of the Shomu Emperor. In the 4th year of the Jinki period (727), Tokudo Shonin set an 11-faced Kannon statue at the east and founded this temple.
The main statue is the wooden 11-faced Kannon-bosatsu statue. It was made in the 7th year of the Tenbun period (1538). At about 10m tall, it is the biggest wooden Buddha statue in Japan. The butai-style main building is tile-roofed and half-hipped roofed and was built in the 3rd year of the Keian period (1650).
The temple has many Buddhist scriptures and statues such as the Bronze Plaque of the Hokke Sesso-zu, and a 'makie' box for scriptures, which are national treasures. They give a sense of sincere faith.
Nara Hase Temple is also well known as a flower spot, which please visitors through each of the four seasons.
Hirokawa Temple belongs to the Shingon Daigo school of Buddhism, and is located in Minami Kawauchi-gun in Osaka. The hill on which it is built is called Mt Ryuuchi.
Hirokawa Temple is a supplication temple for the Tenmu, Saga and Gotoba emperors. Ennogyoja established it in 666. Gyogi trained as a priest here in 737 and Kukai inherited the temple and reformed it in 812. In 1463, it burned down, but Jiun reformed it in 1732 and added the Saigyo building. The shape it has today is unchanged since then.
Hirokawa Temple is famous as a place where Saigyo stayed and established a hermitage. Within the temple precinct is a memorial museum to Saigyo and Jiun. The temple also features the Nishi Kodo building and is popular for cherry-blossom viewing in spring when over 1500 flowers bloom. Furthermore, one of the cherry trees is 300 years old.
Yakushi-ji Temple, located in Nishinokyo in Nara prefecture, is one of the two head temples of the Hossou religious sect, the other being Koufuku-ji Temple, one of the Seven Great Temples of Nara. In 1998, the temple was designated as a World Heritage Site. Yakushi-ji was founded by the Emperor Tenmu in 680 to pray for his wife, the Empress Unonosarara-himemiko (later known as Emperess Jitou) to recover from an illness. The temple was initially built in Fujiwara and moved to its present site following the relocation of the capital to Heijou, present day Nara, in 718. Most of the buildings were destroyed by fires from either wars or natural disasters and the only existing building from the original structure is the To-to, or East Pagoda. Other buildings, including the Kondou Main Hall, Sai-to or Wet Pagoda, Chuu-mon or the middle gate, as well as a corridor, were restored after the Showa period. Today, they still capture visitors’ imagination and invoke images of the beauty of the temple during its heyday. In the middle of the grounds of Yakushi-ji stands the Kondou Main Hall. To the east and west of the Hall lie two Pagodas, and behind is the Kodo, or Lecture Hall. A corridor surrounds these buildings. The architectural style of the temple is very unique, so much so that it has been given its own name: “Yakushi-ji Style Arrangement”.
Yoshino handmade Japanese paper (washi) is a traditional handicraft, and representative of Nara. It is sometimes called uda paper, misu paper or kuzu paper, and is known for its outstanding texture and strength. It is also designated as a traditional handicraft of Nara.
The history of washi dates back more than 1300 years and is said to have been begun by Oamano-oji (later Emperor Temmu) who taught the village people of Kuzu the art of papermaking. Oamano-oji is also known for gathering an army and fighting at Yoshino during the Jinshin rebellion in 672.
Yoshino paper began to spread nationwide in the Edo period. The paper was named uda paper because merchants from Daiwa Uda-cho sold it throughout Japan, and it was found useful for mounting or backing paper or fabric.
The handmade paper of Yoshino is very thin, yet sturdy. There are currently 12 families who still protect the tradition and techniques of papermaking here, and who make an important contribution to the making of paper for shodo sliding doors and for repairing national treasures.