Kume-dera Temple (久米寺)

Kume-dera Temple, located in Kume Town, Kashihara City, Nara Prefecture, is a temple that belongs to the Omuro school of the Shingon sect of Buddhism. Its sango (literally "mountain name," a title prefixed to the name of a Buddhist temple) is Reizen-zan. Its full name is Reizen-zan Toto-in Kume-dera Temple. Its principal image is Yakushi-nyorai. The founder is unknown, although there is a theory that it was Prince Kume, Prince Shotoku's younger brother. One of the Yamato Shichifuku Happo pilgrimage (Shigisan Chogosonshi-ji Temple, Kume-dera Temple, Kojima-dera Temple, Ofusa Kannon Tanzan-jinja Shrine, Taima-dera Temple Nakano-do Hall, Abe Monju-in Temple, Omiwa-jinja Shrine).

The ninth temple of the 18 Historical Temples with Pagodas.

History

One of the three Yamato mountains, located to the south of Mt. Unebi-yama and close to Kashihara-jingu Shrine. The founder is unknown, although it is said that it was either Prince Kume, Prince Shotoku's younger brother, or the Kume-no-sennin (mountain wizard). It is known as the temple where Kukai (Kobo Daishi) started the Shingon sect. Legend has it that Kume-no-sennin fell out of the sky while gaping at the sight of a young woman's calf.

"Washu Kume-dera Ryuki" (the record of the estate of Kume-dera Temple) tells about the founding by Prince Kume. "Fuso Ryakki" (A Brief History of Japan) and "Shichidaiji Junrei Shiki (Private Journal of a Pilgrimage to the Seven Great Temples) tie the temple to Kume-no-sennin. Needless to say, the legend of Kume-no-sennin (later mentioned) is fiction; although accurate details of the founding are uncertain, the theory that it was built as the uji-dera temple (temple built for praying for one clan's prosperity) for Kumebe, responsible for the military division under the system of the Yamato administration, is most credible. Because of the cornerstones for an old tower within the property and the style of roof tiles that have been unearthed, it is thought that construction dates back to the early Nara period. It is said that it was at the tower in this temple that Kukai discovered "Dainichi-kyo" (Mahavairocana Sutra), one of the primal scriptures for the Shingon sect. It is referred to as 'Kume Temple' (in different kanji characters) on the inscription on the monument beside Masuda pond which was written by Kukai, bringing speculation to the relationship with Kukai.

The remains of the 'Okuyama Kuma-dera Temple' are found on Mt. Oku-yama in Asuka Village next to Kasahara City, and there is a lore that this temple was also founded by Prince Kume.

The Legend of Kume-no-sennin

The tale of the founding by Kume-no-sennin is a famous story that has been recorded in the section regarding Japanese Buddhism in Chapter 12 of "Konjyaku Monogatari-shu" (A Collection of Tales of Times Now Past), and referred to in "Tsurezure-gusa" (Essays in Idleness) in addition to "Fuso Ryakki" and "Shichidaiji Junrei Shiki." According to the tale, Kume-no-sennin of Ryumon-dera Temple on Mt. Yoshino-yama learned to fly in the air using his supernatural powers; one day while flying, his attention went to the calves of a woman doing laundry in a river, making him lose his powers and fall to the ground. Kume-no-sennin was able to happily get married to that woman. Afterwards, he lived as a regular mortal. Later, the emperor of the time decided to move the capital, and Kume-no-sennin was hired as a laborer working on the construction for the move, responsible for transporting lumber and such.
One day one of the other workers teased him, saying "if you're a sennin, why don't you use your powers to transport the lumber in one shot?"
Determined Kume-no-sennin prayed for seven days and seven nights and recovered his powers. With Kume-no-sennin's powers, all the lumber on the mountain shot into the air one by one and flew to the new capital. The story goes on to say that pleased with this feat, the emperor gave Kume-no-sennin 12 acres of land, and this is how Kume-dera Temple was built.

Architecture

Hondo (Main Building)
Taho-to Pagoda (Multi-treasure Pagoda) (important cultural property) – Momoyama style, relocated from Ninna-ji Temple in Kyoto in 1659.

The adjacent Kumenomiagata-jinja Shrine was Kume-dera Temple's chinju-sha shrine (protectant shrine of a temple) until the Edo period.

Directions

Walk from Kintetsu Minami-Osaka line Kashiharajingu-mae station.