Nyoirin-ji Temple (如意輪寺)

Nyoirin-ji Temple is a Jodoshu sect (Pure Land sect) temple in Yoshino-cho, Yoshino County, Nara Prefecture.
Its honorific mountain prefix is 'Tonoosan.'
Its principal image is Nyoirin Kannon (Bodhisattva of Compassion). Behind the main hall is Tonoo Mausoleum, the tomb of Emperor Godaigo, who was forced to leave Kyoto by Takauji ASHIKAGA and passed away in Yoshino, and the tomb of the Imperial Prince Tokiyasu.

History

The temple is said to have been opened by Nichizo Shonin (the holy priest Nichizo) during the Engi era (901-922) of the Heian period. The temple was used as Emperor Godaigo's place of imperial prayer during the period of the Northern and Southern Courts (Japan). In 1650, the temple was revived by a monk called Tetsugyu Shonin (the holy priest Tetsugyu) and converted to the Jodoshu sect.

It is said that Masatsura KUSUNOKI, the eldest son of Masashige KUSUNOKI, together with his families and retainers, paid a visit to the imperial tomb of Emperor Godaigo in this temple and wrote his death poem 'Since I will never come back alive, I am writing down the names of my fellows and me, who are to be numbered among the dead,' when leaving for the front in the Battle of Shijonawate in January 1348. Masatsura is said to have carved his death poem with an arrowhead on a door of the main hall of this temple and what is believed to be the door is still kept in the temple.

Basho MATSUO left a verse 'The mausoleum has long been desolated and covered with squirrel's-foot ferns and I wonder what the ferns remember,' when he stopped over at this place.

Precincts

The temple is situated halfway up the mountain across the valley from Mt. Yoshino, where there are Kinpusen-ji Temple and Yoshimizu-jinja Shrine. Beyond the Sanmon gate, there is Nyoirin-do (the main hall) to the front with its hip roof covered with Japanese cypress bark shingles, and to the left, there are 'kuri' (priests' living quarters) and treasure hall, and a 'tahoto' pagoda (multi-treasure pagoda) in a place one step higher.

Cultural Properties

Wooden standing statue of Zaogongen in a miniature temple (Important Cultural Property)
The statue of Zaogongen was produced by Genkei, a sculptor of Buddhist statues, in 1226. The miniature temple representing Yoshino Mandala is valuable, too, as a pictorial material. The miniature temple was produced in 1336, about a century after the statue. The statue and the miniature temple are separately enshrined in the treasure hall.

Yoshino Mandala, color painting on paper (cultural property designated by Nara Prefecture)
Wooden standing statue of Amida Nyorai (Amitabha Tathagata) is a work dating back to the early Heian period around the ninth century.

Masatsura KUSUNOKI's death poem door
The door is considered to be the one on which Masatsura KUSUNOKI carved his death poem 'Since I will never come back alive, I am writing down the names of my fellows and me, who are to be numbered among the dead,' when leaving for the front in the Battle of Shijonawate.

The aforementioned cultural properties are exhibited at the treasure hall in the temple.

Fudasho (office in a temple where amulets are distributed)

The thirtieth temple of the thirty-six fudoson temples in the Kinki region
En no Gyoja Reiseki Fudasho (sacred site for pilgrimage)

Location and access

1024 Mt. Yoshino, Yoshino-cho, Yoshino County, Nara Prefecture
Take Yoshino Ropeway from Yoshino Station of the Kintetsu Yoshino Line (Nara Prefecture) to 'Yoshinoyama' (Mt. Yoshino) stop and walk about 30 minutes. From Kinpusen-ji Temple, where there is a Zao-do hall, walk about 20 minutes across the valley.