Tonan-in Temple (Nara City) (東南院 (奈良市))

Tonan-in Temple is the main temple of the Shingon Sect considered to have been located to the southeast of Todai-ji Temple (which is around the present Todaiji Library). To be precise, it was referred to as Tonan-in Temple in Todai-ji Temple.
It is designated as a national historic site known as 'the former grounds of Tonan-in Temple in Todai-ji Temple.'

Origin and History

It has been popularly said that Tonan-in Temple was founded by Kukai of the Shingon Sect but, in fact, it is considered to have been established by Shobo who was instrumental in erecting Diego-ji Temple. Shobo advocated studying both of the Sanron and Shingon sects at Daigo-ji Temple. While Daigo-ji Temple subsequently adopted concurrent study of the Shingon Sect (Tomitsu), which a school of the Esoteric Buddhism, and the Sanron Sect, which is a school of the non-esoteric Buddhism, Tonan-in Temple regarded the Sanron Sect as the axis of teachings; however, the temple accepted Buddhist monks who studied the Shingon Sect. Todai-ji Temple consequently became recognized as the temple that embraces the teaching of both Kegon and Sanron sects.

As it produced numerous Todai-ji Betto (the head priest) in medieval times, Tonan-in Temple existed as one of the 2 major sub-temples of Todai-ji Temple with Sonsho-in Temple, which followed the teachings of the Kegon Sect that was considered as the fundamental sect of Todai-ji Temple, being the other. However, comparing to Sonsho-in Temple with its substance still remaining unaccountable, Tonan-in Temple had an advantage as evidenced by copious amounts of historical materials related to Todai-ji Betto that the temple presented to the Imperial Court.