Daruma-ji Temple (Oji Machi, Kita-katsuragi County) (達磨寺 (北葛城郡王寺町))

Daruma-ji Temple is a temple of the Nanzen-ji school of the Rinzai sect of Buddhism, located in Oji-machi, Kita-katsuragi County, Nara Prefecture. Its sango (literally "mountain name", a title prefixed to the name of a Buddhist temple) is Kataokayama. Its principal images are Senju Kannon, Daruma Zenji and the Prince Shotoku.

The origin of the temple has been told in relation to the Kataokayama kijin legend that described a story which happened in the winter of 613, namely that Prince Shotoku met a starving stranger in Kataokayama (Mount Kataoka) and gave him food and clothing. Since then, the temple has been in a cycle of decline and restoration, and was eventually granted a feudal estate of thirty koku (a unit to measure harvest yield) by the Edo shogunate.

The Kataokayama kijin legend is found in the entry for December 613 of the "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan) and in "Genko shakusho" (History of Buddhism of the Genko Period). Prince Shotoku, who was then called Umayado no Oji, was walking on Mount Kataoka, and met a starving stranger. The Prince gave his own food and clothing to help the man to survive the coldness and hunger. The next day, the Prince sent his servant to see the condition of the man, but the man was already dead; so the man was buried in a courteous manner. After a while, the Prince again sent his servant to check on the grave, but the dead body was missing and only the clothing that the Prince gave to him, neatly folded, remained on the top of the coffin. The locals heard about this episode and started to believe that the dead man must have been a reincarnation of Daruma zenji; then the Prince Shotoku sculpted an image of Daruma and enshrined it at the site where Daruma-ji Temple currently stands.

In the temple's precincts there are three ancient tombs which were constructed in around the six century, called the Daruma-ji first, second and third tombs, and the hondo (main hall) of the temple is built on the third tomb. In the Heian Period, this ancient tomb seems to have been believed to be the mound of Daruma zenji, the associate of Prince Shotoku. By the Kamakura Period at the earliest, it seems that the site was gradually transformed into a temple.

The grave of Hisahide MATSUNAGA is in the grounds of the temple nearby in the precinct.

Cultural Properties

Important Cultural Properties

The kempon chakushoku nehanzu (a painting depicting Buddha's death in color on silk)
A wooden statue of Prince Shotoku seated, sculpted in 1277.

A wooden statue of Darma sitting, sculpted in 1430. Shubun, a famous Suiboku painter, took charge of the coloring of the statue.

The sekido (a kind of stone tower) that describes the restoration of Daruma-ji Temple, accompanied by a stone monument being engraved with 1442, a celadon incense burner, and two big jars
An octagonal stone pillar, 185cm high, standing behind the hondo (main hall)
It was built in 1448. The history of Daruma-ji Temple is engraved on all sides of the tower. Three articles additionally designated as significant cultural artifacts were discovered in 2000 when the tower was moved in order to reconstruct the hondo (main hall).

Cultural Properties designated by Nara Prefecture

The hojo (temple guest house), built in 1667.

Cultural Property designated by Oji-machi

A wooden senju kannon zo (statue of thousand-armed Avalokiteshwara), sculpted in the Muromachi Period.

Unearthed articles found in the buried remains of the tower of Daruma-ji Temple dating from the Kamakura Period. In 2002, an excavation was carried out as the temple's main hall was reconstructed, and some articles were found. The hokyointo stone pagoda was found in a small stone room under the foundations of the main hall. Moreover, a small container of earthy material was found in the stone pagoda, and a crystal pagoda style container for pieces of Buddha bone was found inside the earthy container. It is an artifact with a nested structure, in which all of the containers were nested and at the center of the structure there were very small pieces of Shari (Buddha relics) made of quartz schist cocooned in the pagoda style container.
This is thought to have been buried when the site was reorganized as it was re-established as a temple in the first half of the thirteenth century, after the third Daruma-ji tomb was reshaped


By train:
From Oji Station on the JR Yamatoji Line, take the Nara Kotsu Bus to Darumaji bus stop, and the temple is about ten minutes on foot.
By car:
Take the Nishi-Meihan Highway, then turn onto National Route 168 at Kashiba Interchange. Free parking is available for visitors.

[Original Japanese]