Provincial Temples (国分寺)

Provincial temples (kokubunji) and provincial nunneries (kokubunniji) are temples and nunneries that were established in each province of Japan in the year 741 by Emperor Shomu in order to pacify national unrest. The more formal name for the 'kokubunji' was 'konkomyo-shitenno-gokoku no tera' (meaning 'temples for the protection of the country by the four guardian deities of the golden light') and the more formal name for the 'kokubunniji' was 'hokke-metsuzai no tera' (meaning 'nunneries for eliminating sin by means of the Lotus Sutra').


Each province had one provincial temple and one provincial nunnery which were located near to the provincial government offices. Along with the provincial governor's office, many represented the largest buildings in the province. Todai-ji Temple in Yamato Province served as the head of all provincial temples and Hokke-ji Temple served as the head of all provincial nunneries.

With the relaxing of the ritsuryo system (a system of centralized government based on the ritsuryo code) and the loss of financial support provided by the government, many provincial temples were closed. However, many have survived until today and it is clear that following the middle ages a large number of provincial temples continued to operate in different forms or belonging to different sects from the time of their founding, whereas others were later restored. In addition, the articles of provincial temples remain at temples near to where a provincial temple once stood. The same is true of provincial nunneries but many of these were not restored.

List of Provincial Temples

The principal image, sango (literally, "mountain name," which is the title prefixed to the name of a Buddhist temple)/ingo (a title given to a Buddhist temple) and sect given are the most current ones.

List of Provincial Nunneries

The province is unknown where not indicated.

[Original Japanese]