Kaicho-ji Temple (戒長寺)

Kaicho-ji Temple, located in Haidara Town, Uda City, Nara Prefecture is a temple that belongs to the Omuro school of the Shingon sect. Its sango (literally "mountain name", a title prefixed to the name of a Buddhist temple) is Mount Kaiba-san. Its principle image is Yakushi-nyorai.

History

It is located to the east of Mount Nukai-dake (elevation 816m), also called Yamato-Fuji, on a ledge at the side of Mt. Kaiba (elevation 737.6m). Although details of the founding and history of the temple are unclear, temple legend has it that it was erected by Prince Shotoku, and Kukai (Kobo Daishi) later practiced asceticism there.

Its first appearance in literature is as "Kaicho-ji Temple" in the Kanto Gechijo-an (judicial documents for the Kanto region) dated 1240, which is part of the Kasuga Taisha Shrine collection of correspondence. The statue of the principle image which still exists today is from the late Heian Period, in around the eleventh century, and it is thought that the temple had already been built by this time.

Architecture

Hondo (main building): late Edo Period, built in 1864. This enshrines the principle image Yakushi Sanzonzo (three statues that comprise the Yukushi Triad) and other Buddhist statues of the Heian Period.

Shoro-mon (gate with bell tower): constructed at the same time as the hondo. Houses a bronze bell that has been designated as an important cultural property.

Kaicho-jinja Shrine: the chinju-sha Shrine (protectant shrine of a temple) located to the right of the hondo.

Important Cultural Properties

Bronze bell: inscribed with the year 1291. A bell of unusual style with the Juni Shinsho-zo (image of Yakushi-nyorai's twelve protective deities) cast on its body.

Cultural Properties Designated by Nara Prefecture

Wooden statues of Yakushi-nyorai and two attendants: late Heian Period
Wooden statue of seated Yakushi-nyorai: late Heian Period

Natural Monuments Designated by Nara Prefecture

Ohatsuki-icho (a rare species of gingko tree) found at Kaicho-ji Temple
Japanese big-leaf magnolia found at Kaicho-jinja Shrine

Access

From Haidara Station on the Kintetsu Osaka line take the Nara Kotsu bus to Tenmandai-Higashi San-chome bus stop and walk thirty minutes.