Oka-dera Temple (岡寺)

Oka-dera Temple located in Asuka-mura, Takaichi-gun, Nara Prefecture is a temple of the Shingo sect Buzan school. Its sango (prefix of a Buddhist temple) is Toko-zan, and it is called Ryugai-ji Temple by another jigo (literally, "temple name"), the title given to a Buddhist temple.
(Its jigo is described below.)
Its honzon (principal image of Buddha) is Nyoirin Kannon (the Bodhisattva of Compassion). It is the 7th fudasho (temples where amulets are collected) of Saigoku Sanjusankasho (the 33 temples that are visited during the Kansai Kannon Pilgrimage).

History

It is not known when it was founded, but Gien Sojo is believed to have founded it on the remain of Okanomiya Palace resided by Prince Kusakabe, who was a prince of Emperor Tenmu and died at the age of 27. Old roof-tiles dated back to the early Nara period were excavated at the precincts of Haruta-jinja Shrine, which stands on the west of the temple. This suggests that Oka-dera Temple was originally located at the place where Haruta-jinja Shrine now stands. It was designated as a national historical site in 2005.

It is now a temple of the Shingo sect Buzan school, but a high Buddhist priest, Gien Sojo was the founder of the Dharma Characteristics (Hosso) school of Japan. His disciples included Roben and Gyoki who took part in the foundation of Todai-ji Temple. It had been a branch temple of Kofuku-ji Temple until the Edo period because Gien Sojo was the founder of the Dharma Characteristics (Hosso) school of Japan. It has been a branch temple of Hase-dera Temple since the Edo period.

Jigo

As stated above, the temple has two names as jigo: "Oka-dera Temple" and "Ryugai-ji Temple". "Oka-dera Temple" is a jigo coming from the place-name, while "Ryugai-ji Temple" is a hogo (a Buddhist name). A stone pillar in front of Nio-mon Gate (Deva gate) writes "7th fudasho of Saigoku Sanjusankasho, Oka-dera Temple." It is commonly called Oka-dera Temple.
The registered name as a religious corporation is also 'Oka-dera Temple.'
(This is why it was designated as an architecture of important cultural property in the name of 'Nio-mon Gate of Oka-dera Temple' and 'Shoin (reception room) of Oka-dera Temple.'

Precincts

Nio-mon Gate (Important Cultural Property): It was rebuilt in 1612. Hondo (main hall): It was built in 1805. It enshrines sozo (molding) sitting statue of Cintamani-cakra (manifestation of Avalokitesvara).

Kaisan-do Hall (a hall where the statue of founder priest is placed): around 1797. Romon (two-story gate): It was built around 1596 to 1615. Shoro-do (belfry hall): It was rebuilt at the same as Hondo. Shoin (reception room) (Important Cultural Property): It was built in 1644. Stone pagoda: It was built in 1926. Three-storied pagoda: It was rebuilt in 1986.
Miroku-do (Maitreya hall)
Ruri well
Ryugai pond: The name of Ryugai-ji Temple came from this pond and a legend of Gien Sojo in relation with this pond has been handed down. Inari-sha Shrine: The date of construction is unknown. Mausoleum of Gien Sojo: It was built in 1360.
Daishido (hall for the Great Teacher)
Ossuary
Bussoku-seki (stone of Buddha's footprints)

National treasure

Lacquered wooden sitting statue of Gien Sojo: Nara period
It gives a realistic representation of the face with eyes slanting down outwards and many wrinkles, and the thin chest on which the ribs stand out. It is deposited in the Nara National Museum.

Important Cultural Property

Nio-mon (gate of the two Deva Kings)
Shoin
Earthen sitting statue of Cintamani-cakra (manifestation of Avalokitesvara): It is the largest earthen image in Japan with a height of 4.6 m built in Nara period. A Nyoirin Kannon zo (an image of Nyoirin Kannon) is commonly expressed as a sitting statue having six arms, but this statue, like the principal image of Ishiyama-dera Temple, has two arms. The head remains what was initially built but the body underwent various restorations. Although the legs were originally in a semi-lotus position like the principal image statue of Ishiyama-dera Temple, it was modified into a sitting statue as it is today.

Bronze statue of Bosatsu in half lotus position: Nara period
It is deposited in Kyoto National Museum.

Statue of nirvana of Mokuzo Butsu (Maitreya Bodhisattva): Kamakura period
It is deposited in Tokyo National Museum.

Tennin Monsen (the roof tile with the pattern of a celestial being): It is deposited in Kyoto National Museum..

Cultural Property designated by Nara Prefecture
Main hall
Romon (two-story gate)

Other cultural properties

Statue of Kobodaishi: color painting on silk in the Kamakura period
Hengaku (temple's name tablet displayed on the gate): The calligraphy is attributed to Kukai in the Kamakura Period.

Nyoirin Kannon zo (a painting of Nyoirin Kannon): color painting on silk in the Muromachi period
Fudo Myoo zo (a painting of Fudo Myoo [Acala, one of the Five Wisdom Kings]): color painting on silk in the Muromachi period
Ryugai-ji Temple Engi (the origins of Ryugai-ji Temple): Edo period

Address and access

806 Oka, Asuka-mura, Takaichi-gun, Nara Prefecture 634-0111

*The following bus lines have been greatly changed. They will be updated after thorough examinations.
(February 12, 2009)

Take a bus of the following bus lines of Nara Kotsu Bus Lines Co., Ltd. at the bus stop No. 2 at the east exit of Kashiharajingu-mae Station, Kinki Nippon Railway Company.
The 25th line bound for Oka-dera
The 1819th line bound for the east exit of Kashiharajingu-mae Station (Shobucho 4 chome=>Noguchi=>Oka-dera mae=> Asuka-daibutsu mae =>the east exit of Kashiharajingu-mae Station)
15:00, Kame bus bound for Hinokuma (out of service when schools are closed)
16:23: Asuka cruise bus (Aka kame) bound for Asuka Station
17:00: Asuka cruise bus (Aka kame) bound for Oka-dera
Take a bus of the following bus lines of Nara Kotsu Bus Lines Co., Ltd. at the bus stop in front of Kintetsu Asuka Station.
16:23: Asuka cruise bus (Aka kame) bound for the east exit of Kashiharajingu-mae Station
It is about a 10 minute walk from the "Oka-dera mae" bus stop of the bus above
Take a bus of the following lines of Nara Kotsu Bus Lines Co., Ltd. at the bus stop No.2 at the south exit of Sakurai Station.
The 37th line bound for Ishibutai Kofun
Sakurai City Community Bus bound for Ishibutai (only available on weekends and holidays [except for the year-end and New Year holidays]). It is about a 7-minute walk from "Haruta Jinja mae" bust stop of the bus above.

Goeika (Buddhist hymn)
Dewy moss in the morning garden of Oka-dera Temple sparkles just like azure.
Next fudasho (temples where amulets are collected)
Saigoku Sanjusankasho (the 33 temples that are visited during the Kansai Kannon Pilgrimage)
6 Minamihokke-ji Temple -- 7 Oka-dera Temple -- 8 Hase-dera Temple