Okura-ji Temple (Uda City) (大蔵寺 (宇陀市))

Okura-ji Temple is a Buddhist temple of the Ryumon Shingon sect situated in Ouda-cho, Uda City, Nara Prefecture. Its sango (literally, "mountain name"), the title prefixed to the name of a Buddhist temple, is Unkanzan. Its ingo (the title given to a Buddhist temple) is Ioin. Its honzon (the principal image of Buddha) is Yakushi Nyorai (the Healing Buddha).

History

The place of Okura-ji Temple, Ouda-ku, Ouda City, was called Akino in the ancient times, and was used as an imperial hunting ground. Matsuyama District, the center of Ouda-ku, was the Uda-Matsuyama Domain in the early modern times, and Matsuyama (Uda City) has been chosen as Preservation District for Groups of Important Historic Buildings. Okura-ji Temple is located on the mountains in Kurino District, along National Route 370, which connects Matsuyama District and Yoshino, and it is about a one-kilometer walk on a steep slope from the national route.

It is not clear when and how Okura-ji Temple was built. The temple's history says it was founded by Shotoku Taishi (Prince Shotoku) on the order of Emperor Yomei. It is believed that in the early Heian period, thirty-seven-year-old Kukai (Kobo Daishi or Great Priest Kobo) entered the temple to live there, and designated it as the first temple of the Shingon sect. As Kobo Daishi decided that it was the temple of the Shingon sect before he opened Koyasan Mountain (the holy place of the Shingon sect), Okura-ji Temple has also been called 'Moto Koya' (original Koya), and has been regarded as a religious site of the sect.

Buildings

Hondo (Main Hall) (important cultural property)
The construction in the Kamakura period. Yosemune-zukuri (hipped roof) style, Kokerabuki (with shingles).

Daishi-do (Great Priest's Hall) (important cultural property)
The construction in the Kamakura period. The construction is Hogyo-zukuri (pyramidal roof) style with Kokerabuki (shingles), and is considered to be the oldest Daishi-do in Japan dedicated to Kobo Daishi.
Enshrined in it is the seated statue of thirty-seven-year-old Kukai, sometimes called 'the Statue of Yakuyoke-kaiun (warding off evil and bringing in good fortune).'

Benji-do Hall
A small hall next to Kuri (the priest's living place) situated on land slightly lower than that of Hondo (Main Hall). Tenshin OKAKURA, the leader of the art world in the Meiji period, donated it. Tenshin had the friendship of one of the chief priests of the temple, Kancho MARUYAMA, who engaged in the Buddhism restoration movement during the time of the anti-Buddhism movement in the Meiji period. Inside the Benji-do Hall, a seated statue of Jizo Bosatsu (Jizo Bodhisattva) made in the Kamakura period is placed.

Important Cultural Properties

Hondo (Main Hall)
Daishi-do (Great Priest's Hall)
The standing wooden statue of Yakushi Nyorai (the Healing Buddha)
The Buddhist statue usually not shown to the public, made in the late Heian period. 265 cm in height. The wooden surface is neither colored nor gilded. It is made in simple style with loosely carved folds in the robes.

Wooden Tenbugyoryu-zo (The standing wooden statue of a god in heaven)
Made in the late Heian period. 169 cm in height. It is just called 'Tenbugyo-zo' (statue of a god in heaven) because the name of the god is unknown.

Cultural properties designated by Nara Prefecture

Kenpon Chakushoku Shotoku Taishi Eden (The color painting of Shotoku Taishi on silk)
Kenpon Chakushoku Amida Shouju Raigo-zu (The color painting of Amida [the Buddha who resides in the Western Pure Land] and other holy Bosatsu coming to welcome a dying person) (entrusted to Nara National Museum)
Wooden Jizo Bosatsu ryuzo (The standing wooden statue of Jizo Bosatsu)
Wooden Jizo Bosatsu zazo (The seated wooden statue of Jizo Bosatsu)
The thirteen-storied stone pagoda---engraved in the year of 1240

Directions

Take a Nara Kotsu bus (for Ouda) from Haibara Station on the Kintetsu Osaka Line, get off at the last stop, 'Ouda,' and walk about five kilometers.

The Official Web site

http//ookuraji.web.officelive.com/default.aspx