Horin-ji Temple (Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto City) (法輪寺 (京都市西京区))

Horin-ji Temple is a Buddhist temple located in Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto City. Its honorific mountain prefix is Mt. Chifuku. The temple belongs to the Gochi Group of the Shingon Sect. It is commonly known as Saga Kokuzo.

It is located on the side of the Arashiyama Mountain scenic spot.
The principal image statue of Kokuzo Bosatsu is affectionately known as 'Sagano no Kokuzo-san.'
It is considered to be one of 'Japan's Three Great Kokuzo Statues' together with those of Yanaizu Enzo-ji Temple in Aizu, Oshu Province and Kongo sho-ji Temple in Asayama, Ise. In ancient times, the statue's name appeared in works including "Konjaku Monogatarishu" (lit. Anthology of Tales from the Past), "Makurano-soshi" (The Pillow Book) and "Heike Monogatari"(the Tale of the Heike), and it drew many worshippers as a guardian deity of those born in the years of Ox and Tiger (of the Chinese zodiac). The temple is also well-known for Jusan Mairi (a temple visit made by 13-year-old children to give thanks for their coming of age), Harikuyo (memorial service for old needles) and the ancestor deity of lacquer. The temple precincts also contain the Denden-gu Shrine that enshrines the guardian deity of electricity and radio waves.

Origin and History

According to temple legend, Gyoki constructed Kadonoi-dera Temple in the year 713 by the order of Emperor Genmei to pray for industrial prosperity. In 829, Dosho, a disciple of Kukai, enshrined the statue of Kokuzo Bosatsu and renamed the temple Horin-ji.

In the Muromachi period, Horin-ji Temple was ravaged by fire during the Onin War and was rebuilt by Emperor Goyozei in the Edo period but was once again damaged by fire during the Hamaguri Rebellion at the end of the Edo period.


Main hall: Reconstructed during the Meiji period.

Ningyo-zuka (Doll Mound)
Hari-kuyo-to (Needle Memorial Service Pagoda)
Observation platform

Cultural Properties

Wooden statues of Jikokuten and Tamonten
Principal image statue of Kokuzo Bosatsu (ordinarily withheld from public view)


Hari-kuyo (memorial service for old needles): February 8. Large needles with various colors of threat attached are stuck into konnyaku jelly and participants pray for improved needlework skills. The ceremony is believed to have originated during the Heian period when Emperor Seiwa had a Hari-kuyo hall constructed.

Geino Jotatsu Kigan-sai (a service to pray for improvement in the performing arts: March 10. A dedicatory Kyogen performance is held by the Shigeyama Group.

Jusan Mairi (a temple visit made by 13-year-old children to give thanks for their coming of age): March 13, April 13, May 13. Also known as 'Chie-mairi' (prayer for wisdom). Boys and girls who have turned 13 visit the temple to pray for health. It is also said that, as they leave after having made their prayers, the wisdom will return to the main hall if they look back before crossing the Togetsu-kyo Bridge.

Choyo no Sekku (Chrysanthemum Festival): September 9. It is also known as the 'Double Ninth Festival' as the date contains two of the positive (yang) number nine. During this 'Kiku no Kisewata' (lit. chrysanthemum covering cloth) celebration, people drink sake laced with chrysanthemum petals, exorcise misfortune and pray for longevity, and it is said that one can live a long life by wiping oneself with a cloth that has been placed on a chrysanthemum plant and become covered in dew during the previous night. Also, it is said that the fragrance of chrysanthemums picked on the Double Ninth Day and placed inside a pillow known as a 'Kiku-makura' (lit. chrysanthemum pillow) can grant longevity.

Hari-kuyo (memorial service for old needles): December 8. A memorial service is held for old needles collected from throughout the country. After the chanting of sutras, "orihime" (young female seamstresses) in ancient style costumes perform a dance and grant good fortune to the improvement of all crafts.


Arashiyama Kokuzoyama-cho, Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto City 616-0006


Five minutes walk from Saga Arashiyama Station on the JR Sagano Line. Four minutes walk from Arashiyama Station on the Keifuku Electric Railway Arashiyama main line. Two minutes from Arashiyama Station on the Hankyu Arashiyama Line. Take the Kyoto Bus or Kyoto City Bus to Arashiyama bus stop and walk for three minutes.

[Original Japanese]