Ono-dera Temple (大野寺)

Ono-dera Temple is a temple of the Murou-ji school of the Shingon sect in Muro-mura, Uda City, Nara Prefecture. Its sango (literally, "mountain name"), which is the title prefixed to the name of a Buddhist temple, is Yoryu-san, the honzon (the principle image of Buddha) is Miroku Bosatsu (Maitreya Bodhisattva), and the founder is said to be EN no Ozunu. It is located at the Great West Gate of Muro-ji Temple. It is known to have Miroku Magaibutsu (images of Buddha carved on a cliff or natural rock face) carved on the natural rock on the riverbank of Uda-gawa River, and is also famous for beautiful weeping cherry trees. It is one of En no Gyoja Reiseki Fudasho (sacred sites for pilgrimages associated with EN no Ozunu).


Ono-dera Temple is located at the place of scenic beauty along Uda-gawa River and at the entrance of the way from Muroguchi Ono Station on Kintetsu Line to Muro-ji Temple.
Tradition says that it was founded by EN no Ozunu (EN no Gyoja) in 681 and that Kukai (Kobo Daishi) erected the main hall in 824 and named it 'Jisonin Miroku-ji Temple.'
However, EN no Ozunu was a semi-legendary person who is thought to be the founder of Shugendo (Japanese ascetic and shamanistic practice in mountainous sites), and the story that Kukai erected the hall is also thought to be a legendary story created in order to establish that Kukai, the sect founder, founded the building, so it should be said that what really happened with regard to the foundation of this temple is, in fact, unknown. Muro-ji Temple, located in its neighborhood, was founded and has been maintained by priests connected with Kofuku-ji Temple and the foundation of Miroku magaibutsu in Ono-dera Temple also involved the priests of Kofuku-ji Temple; these facts suggest that it had close relations with Kofuku-ji Temple.

According to 'Sekibutsu Engi (the history of stone Buddha statues)' (1659) and 'Kofuku-ji Betto Shidai', the construction of Miroku Magaibutsu, which stands at the opposite riverbank across Uda-gawa River, started in 1207 under the direction of Gaen, a priest of Kofuku-ji Temple, and in 1208 kaigen-kuyo (a ceremony to consecrate a newly made Buddhist image) was held in the presence of Emperor Gotoba.

In 1900, the temple was completely burned down in a fire. On the occasion the honzon and other statues of Buddha were rescued and still remain, while all the buildings that exist now were constructed again after the fire.

Buildings and structures

Hondo (main temple) — the wooden standing statue of Miroku Bosatsu of the honzon (the principal image) (a Buddhist image normally withheld from public view) is enshrined here.

Jizo-do Hall

Cultural properties

Wooden standing statue of Jizo Bosatsu (an important cultural property) — a statue made with yosegi-zukuri (a method of constructing a statue by assembling pieces of wood) in the Kamakura period, called 'Scapegoat Jizo' due to the legend that it saved an innocent girl from being burnt at the stake.

Miroku Magaibutsu (a historic site)
It is engraved on a large rock face 30m high above the riverbank at Uda-gawa River. The rock face was carved in the shape of a halo, which is 13.8m in height with the inner surface made flat and smooth, on which the 11.5-meter-tall standing statue of Miroku-butsu (Miroku Buddha) is depicted by engraving lines. As mentioned above, the construction began under the direction of Gaen, a priest of Kofuku-ji Temple, in 1207 and kaigen-kuyo (a ceremony to consecrate a newly made Buddhist image) was held in 1208 in the presence of Emperor Gotoba. It is said to have been made by a group of stone masons headed by Igyomatsu, or also called I no Yukisue, who was from Sung. It was modeled after the Great Stone Buddhist Image of Miroku (of which currently only the halo is left), which was in Kasagi-yama, Yamashiro Province (Kyoto Prefecture). There was a possibility of the exfoliation caused by the seepage of groundwater from the rock and etc., so the construction for repair and maintenance was conducted from 1993 to 1999. The construction to remove the liverwort from the rock surface and to change the flow of groundwater was done.


Walk for 5 minutes from Muroguchi Ono Station on Kintetsu Osaka Line.

[Original Japanese]