Bujo-ji Temple (峰定寺)

Bujo-ji Temple is a Buddhist temple belonging to the Honzan Shugen Sect located in Hanase Harachi-cho, Sakyo-ku Ward, Kyoto City. The sango (literally, "mountain name"), which is the title prefixed to the name of a Buddhist temple is Daihizan (Mt. Daihi). The principal image is the Thousand-armed Kannon. The founding patron was Kanku Sainen. The temple was established as a Shugendo (Japanese mountain asceticism-shamanism incorporating Shinto and Buddhist concepts) lineage mountain temple in the 12th century and possesses many cultural properties including Buddhist statues dating back to the time of the temple's founding.


Bujo-ji Temple is a mountain temple situated in Hanase near the northernmost part of Kyoto City. The area of Hanase was originally Hanase-mura Village of Otagi-gun County but was incorporated into Kyoto City in 1949. Numerous settlements including Hanase Bessho-cho and Hanase Ofuse-cho are scattered throughout the mountainous area at the end of the Hanase-toge Pass that lies beyond Mt. Kurama in the north of the Kyoto basin.

Bujo-ji Temple is located in Hanase Harachi-cho deep within the Hanase area. Although administratively part of Sakyo-ku Ward, Kyoto City, the area is an approximately 1.5 hour bus ride from the center of Kyoto City.

The Niomon gate of Bujo-ji Temple stands beside the Teratani-gawa River, a source of the Katsura-gawa River, approximately 30 minutes walk east of Daihizan-guchi bus stop on Kyoto Prefectural Route Kyoto- Hirogawara-Miyama Line. The butai-zukuri style (the building structure like a stage) main hall is situated a 15 minutes walk up the path on the southern side of Mt. Daihi (747m). The sango 'Daihi' signifies 'the deep compassion of Kannon,' and is the origin of the Thousand-armed Kannon's alternative name Daihi Kannon.


According to "Daihizan Bujo-ji Engi" (Legend of Bujo-ji Temple on Mt. Daihi) written by FUJIWARA no Michinori (also known as Shinzei), the temple was founded in 1154 at the end of the Heian period by Kanku Sainen (also known as Mitaki Shonin) under the order of Emperor Toba, with the Retired Emperor Toba's private Eleven-faced Thousand-armed Kannon statue installed as the principal image, and the Niomon gate and main hall constructed by FUJIWARA no Michinori and TAIRA no Kiyomori. Kanku Sainen was an experienced mountain ascetic who had practiced at sites including Mt. Omine and Kumano. Ascetic practice sites such as 'Kanekake Iwa' (hanging bell rock) and 'Ari no Towatari' (proceeding like ants over a steep cliff) were scattered throughout Mt. Daihi, which had been a place of ascetic practice since ancient times. Mt. Daihi was also called 'Kita Omine' (Northern Omine) in order to differentiate it from the renowned ascetic practice site of Mt. Omine in Yamato Province (Tenkawa-mura, Yoshino-gun County, Nara Prefecture).

The seated statue of the Thousand-armed Kannon at Bujo-ji Temple and the flanking attendant statues of Fudo Myoo with his two attendants and Bishamonten are small yet have a metropolitan, elaborate style and, as legend suggests, are believed to date from the time of Bujo-ji Temple's founding.

There is also a statue of Kongo Rikishi containing an internal inscription dated 1163 and a statue of Shaka Nyorai that it is understood from the various artifacts inside dates from 1199. The surviving Niomon gate reconstructed in 1350 and the main hall that is also thought to have been rebuilt around this time indicates that the temple was of a fairly large scale during this period but it later gradually fell into decline.

It appears as though Bujo-ji Temple stood in ruin during the early modern period but it is said that in 1676 under the order of the Emperor Gosai, the retired emperor's son Imperial Prince Shogoinnomiya Doyu commanded Priest Genkai of Kifune Jojuin Temple to revive the temple. Bujo-ji Temple's Shogo-in branch temple later converted to the Honzan Shugen Sect. Some historical sources place the time of the temple's revival as the Kyoho era (1716 - 1746).

Important Cultural Properties

Main hall: Around 1350. Yosemune-zukuri (a square or rectangular building, covered with a hipped roof); shingled-roof. As with Main Hall of Kyoto's Kiyomizu-dera Temple, this Buddha hall is a butai-zukuri style (the building structure like a stage) building (kake-zukuri (overhang style)) that stands on the side of a cliff. It is said to be Japan's oldest example of the butai-zukuri architectural style.

Water point: A small building constructed at around the same time as the main hall.

Niomon gate: Built in 1350; irimoya-zukuri style (building with a half-hipped roof); shingled-roof; single storey eight-legged gate.

Wooden seated statue of the Thousand-armed Kannon: The principle image of Bujo-ji Temple
Although small at 31.5 cm in height, it has a metropolitan, elaborate style and the statue and pedestal feature cut gold lead decoration and the halo is a copper plate in which a design has been carved. It is considered to date back to 1154, the year of the temple's founding as stated in the temple legend.

Wooden standing statues of Fudo Myoo with his two attendants and standing statue of Bishamonten: Constructed to serve as attendants to the principal image statue of the Thousand-armed Kannon and also believed to date back to the 1154 year of the temple's founding. Triads consisting of a central Kannon statue and the attendants Fudo Myoo and Bishamonten are frequently found at Tendai Sect lineage temples. The angry facial expressions of both the Fudo Myoo and Bishamonten statues have been suppressed and feature the more gentle facial expressions of the late Heian period. The Bishamonten statue is an early example of a gyokugan (eyes made of crystal inserted into the head of a wooden Buddhist statue) piece.

Wooden standing statue of Shaka Nyorai (Tsuketari (attachments): internal items): The inscriptions on the items concealed within have allowed the piece to be dated to 1199 in the early Kamakura period. The statue stands at about 50 cm in height. This striking statue featuring Chinese Song Dynasty style features such as ripples on the clothing have led to the assumption it was created by Kaikei or a Buddhist sculptor closely acquainted with him. Many items are found inside the statue. In addition to a crystal reliquary urn and scriptures, the items contained within the statue include unique lists of the names of individuals concerned with statue's creation written in monochrome ink on leaves (6).

Wooden standing statue of Kongo Rikishi: This Nio statue with an internal inscription dated 1163 is a rare example of an inscribed Nio statue from the Heian period.

Gong with a flower motif

The wooden seated statue of the Thousand-armed Kannon, the wooden standing statue of Fudo Myoo and his two attendants and the standing statue of Bishamonten, and the wooden standing statue of Shaka Nyorai had long been deposited at Nara National Museum but have since been returned to the temple where they are housed within the repository. The repository is ordinarily closed to the public and is only opened for three days around May 3 and November 3 and on September 17 (the day of the Saito Goma ritual).


772 Hanaseharachi-cho, Sakyo-ku Ward, Kyoto City


Take the Kyoto Bus for Hirogawara from the Eizan Electric Railway Demachiyanagi Station for 1.5 hours and alight at Daihizan-guchi bus stop (four round trips daily). The temple is situated 30 minutes walk to the east of the bus stop.

Visitor Information

Open between 09:00 and 15:30. Closed from December to the following March due to snowfall. It is not possible to enter the temple in rainy weather. Children or groups of more that 20 people are not permitted to enter the temple. It is forbidden to take cameras into the temple.

[Original Japanese]