Futai-ji Temple (不退寺)

Futai-ji Temple is located in Horen-cho, Nara City and belongs to Shingon Ritsu sect. The principal image is Sho Kannon (also known as Narihira Kannon). Its sango (lprefix of a Buddhist temple)is Kinryu-zan. The formal temple name is Futaiten Horin-ji Temple.

Since the temple was founded by ARIWARA no Narihira at the imperial order by the Emperor Ninmyo, it is also called the 'Narihira-dera Temple.'

It is located in the northern area of Nara City, and the Kansai Main Line goes diagonally through the south side of the temple. In the precincts, various flowers, such as weeping forsythia, camellia, Japanese iris and chrysanthemum, bloom from season to season, and in late autumn people can enjoy the charming colors of maple leaves and nandin berries.

According to the temple legend, the origin goes back to 809, when Emperor Heizei abdicated the throne and started to live in seclusion at this place, naming it 'Kaya no Gosho (Thatched-Roofed Imperial Palace).'
Afterwards, it is said that the Imperial Prince Abo, the son of the Emperor Heizei, and ARIWARA no Narihira, the fifth son of the Imperial Prince Abo, also lived there.
Upon the oracle that Narihira received when he visited the Ise-jingu Shrine, he himself carved the statue of Sho Kannon, and prayed to Buddha for the consolation of the soul of dead Imperial Prince Abo at this palace, giving it the name of 'Futaiten Horin-ji Temple.'
This was the beginning of this place as a temple.

Since old roof-tiles were excavated around this temple, the establishment can be dated back to the early Heian period. However, the history before the medieval times is not quite sure.

The precincts
The south gate –constructed in 1317 at the end of Kamakura period and the style is Kirizuma-zukuri (an architectural style with a gabled roof) and hongawarabuki (formal tile roofing). On Kabuki (the upper crossbar which connects the both-sides pole of a gate), oigata shape decoration (a scriptural decoration) can be seen. At the restoration in 1934, many bokushomei (ink inscriptions) were found.

Hondo (main hall) – constructed in early Muromachi period
It is a yosemune-zukuri (hipped roof) style structure with hongawarabuki tile roofing. This is the first example of the architectural structures whose facade is decorated with Koryo (a moderately carved beam like a rainbow), the style that became popular in Kamakura period.

Tahodo ('multi-treasure' pagoda) – constructed in Kamakura period
According to an old painting, 'Yamato meisho zue,' (Beauty spots in Yamato), the pagoda had a top layer of Hiwadabuki roofing (a style of roofing with the bark of hinoki, Japanese cypress) in Kansei era, but it was cast away during the movement of the Exclusion of Buddhism in Meiji period. Now only the first layer remains.

Cultural properties
Important Cultural Properties
The south gate
Wooden standing statue of Shokannon Bosatsu –According to the temple legend, the artist is attributed to ARIWARA no Narihira. However, judging from the style, it is supposed that it was made in the middle of Heian period in around the 11th century. It was carved of one tree and worked with richly colored decoration on the whitewash base. It is settled in Hondo.

Wooden statue of Godai Myoo (Five Kings of Wisdom) – made in the middle of Heian period. It is settled in Hondo.

Shari Zushi (miniature shrine to preserve Buddha's ashes) – deposited in the Nara National Museum. The container for Buddha's relic of a five-storied pagoda shape placed in the Zushi was stolen in 1952, and since then it remains missing.

Seated statue of the Imperial Prince Abo – Cultural Property designated by Nara Prefecture. It was made in Kamakura period.

Stone coffin – It was made in the 5th century. It was excavated from the site around the Uwanabe Ancient Tomb. It is settled in the north of Kuri (the priests' living quarters or the kitchen of a temple).


From Nara Station (JR Kansai Main Line/ Kintetsu Railway), take Nara Kotsu Bus bound for Saidai-ji Temple/Japan Air Self-Defense Force. Get off at 'Ichijo Koko Mae (Futai-ji Guchi)' and walk for about seven minutes.

From Yamato Saidai-ji Station (Kintetsu Railway), take Nara Kotsu Bus bound for JR Nara Station/ Shiratsuchi-cho. Get off at 'Futai-ji Guchi' and walk for about seven minutes.

The opening hours are 9:00am – 5:00pm, and the entrance fee is 500 yen for adults, junior and senior high school students and 300 yen for elementary school students.

[Original Japanese]