Kakuan-ji Temple (額安寺)

Kakuan-ji Temple is a temple belonging to the Shingon Ritsu sect of Buddhism, located in Nukatabetera-machi, Yamatokoriyama City, Nara Prefecture. Its sango (literally "mountain name", a title prefixed to the name of a Buddhist temple) is Kumagorisan. Its principal image is of an Eleven-faced Kannon. The temple name is pronounced "Kakuan-ji" rather than "Gakuan-ji".


This temple is located around the confluence of the Yamato and Saho rivers, near the south end of Yamatokoriyama City. It is said to have been erected in the Asuka Period by Prince Shotoku, and some say that the remains of Kumagori Shoja Temple, the temple previously built at the current location of Daian-ji Temple, are of it, but actually, it is accepted that it was erected to be the Uji-dera temple (temple built to pray for the glory of a clan) for the local ruling family, the Nukatabe clan, who were based in this area.

According to "Daianji Garan Engi narabini Ruki Shizai Cho" (The History of Daian-ji Temple and the Record of the Estates, held at the National Museum of Japanese History) in 747, the predecessor of Daian-ji Temple, one of the Seven Great Temples of Nara, was Kumagori Shoja Temple erected in Nukatabe's land by Prince Shotoku, which became Daian-ji Temple in Heijo-kyo after repeated relocations and renamings. However, the theory that Kumagori Shoja Temple and Daian-ji Temple are the same is open to question without evidence from other supporting historical sources. It is also said that such a theory was put forward because the monk Doji who contributed to the transfer of Daian-ji Temple to Heijo-kyo was from the Nukatabe clan.

According to "Nukatabedera Garan narabini Jori Zu" (Pictures of Nukatabe-ji Temple and the Streets, a National Treasure) passed down through the generations at Kakuan-ji Temple and now in the National Museum of Japanese History, during the Nara Period, the Golden Hall, lecture hall and three-story pagoda were built one after another and it flourished greatly. This Garan narabini Jori Zu was presumed to have been painted in around the Tenpyo-Hoji era (757-765) from the name and other details inscribed on the picture plane, supporting the theory that the foundation of Nukata-dera Temple (Kakuan-ji Temple) was earlier than this period.

It went into decline in the Heian Period, but was revived by Eison, Ninsho and others of Saidai-ji Temple in the late Kamakura Period. It was ruined again as a consequence of war in the Muromachi Period. In 1580, the 180-koku temple estate was forfeited as a result of Nobunaga's land survey. This was restored later by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI as the temple's estate of approximately a hectares was received in exchange for a five-story pagoda which was given to Shitenno-ji Temple. In the Edo Period, the 12-koku temple estate was officially recognized.

Important Cultural Properties

A wood-core dry lacquer statue of Akasagarbha Bodhisattva sitting in the half lotus position, made at the end of the Nara Period or the beginning of the Heian Period
Eight gorinto (a gravestone in the form of a tower composed of five sections set one upon another), found outside the cemetery at the north of the temple
Two of them were engraved with the year 1297.

Items within the gorinto
These were found when the gorinto were repaired in 1982. A set of mementos such as the cinerary urn of Ryokan-Shonin Ninsho, the founding priest of Kamakura gokuraku-ji Temple (Kamakura City) who died in 1303, and that of Zengan-Shonin Junnin, Ninsho's disciple and the third chief priest of Gokuraku-ji Temple from 1326. Ninsho was a monk who made great efforts to revive religious precepts and did work to benefit society during the Kamakura Period, and his ashes were buried in three places, Gokuraku-ji Temple, Kakuan-ji Temple and Chikurin-ji in Ikoma (Ikoma City). Ninsho's cinerary urn has a unique shape like a liquor bottle, and a bronze urn of the same type as that from Kakuan-ji Temple was also excavated from the tomb of Ninsho in Chikurin-ji Temple.

Cultural Properties formerly held by Kakuan-ji Temple

Nukatabedera Garan narabini Jori Zu (Pictures of Nukatabe-ji Temple and the Streets) is a National Treasure kept at the National Museum of Japanese History. Important Cultural Properties include a small black-lacquered altar called Kubikake Dazushuji Mandara Zushi, a cabinet which has two rings tied with cord and on which the mandala is painted, the mandala reflecting the seeds of Mahavairocana (Nara National Museum). The wooden statue of Monju Bosatsu riding on a lion is also an Important Cultural Property and is held by the Agency for Cultural Affairs.


Walk for approximately ten minutes from Hirahata Station on the Kintetsu Kashihara Line.


36 Nukatabeteramachi, Yamatokoriyama City

[Original Japanese]