Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple (愛宕念仏寺)

Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple is a Buddhist temple belonging to the Tendai Sect located in Sagano, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture. The principal image is a Thousand-armed Kannon and the temple is also known by the name Sennihyaku Rakan no Tera (lit. 1200 Arhats Temple). It is known as the starting point of the Sagano tour at the entrance to the Mt. Atago path at the foot of the mountain.

History

Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple was founded as Otagi-dera Temple in Higashiyama, Kyoto, near to present-day Rokuharamitsu-ji Temple, by the Emperor Shotoku in the mid 8th century. It appears to have become a branch-temple of the Toji school of the Shingon Sect at the beginning of the Heian period. The already dilapidated temple buildings were later washed away when the nearby Kamo-gawa River flooded. The essentially non-existent temple was revived by Tendai Sect monk Senkan (Dento Daihosshi) under the order of the Emperor Daigo. Senkan changed the temple name to Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple after its role as a place of nenbutsu practice (a Buddhist invocation) and it became dedicated to the Tendai Sect. At this time it briefly existed as a chokugan-ji (temple built by imperial order) with a complex of buildings but subsequent periods of decline and revival resulted in only the main hall, Jizo-do hall and Niomon gate remaining. In 1922, these structures were relocated attempts were made to revive the temple once again but these failed. It is said that the chief priest Kocho NISHIMURA appointed by the Tendai Sect head temple in 1955 was reluctant to accept his post due to the dilapidated condition of the temple. However, after Ryokei ONISHI, the chief priest of Kiyomizu-dera Temple, encouraged him by saying 'If it is so damaged, pulling a single weed or moving a single stone will see you regarded as a restorer. I will help you,' he undertook renovation work. He later repaired the main hall, Jizo-do hall and Niomon gate while also travelling the country as a Buddhist sculptor. The practice of amateur visitors dedicating "Showa no Rakan-bori" (Showa era Arhat carvings) that they had carved themselves began in 1981. The original aim was for 500 statues, but after 10 years, 1200 had been collected ("Butsuzo wa Kataru" by Kocho NISHIMURA, SHINCHOSHA Publishing Co., Ltd.; August 1993, 212 pages).

Precinct
Main hall: Nationally designated an Important Cultural Property, rebuilt during in the mid Kamakura period and houses a statue of the Thousand-armed Kannon. Two-storey Pagoda: Houses a stone statue of Shaka Nyorai and has a statue of Priest Denkyo at the front.
Rakando (Arhat cave)
Niomon gate: Constructed mid Edo period and houses a statue of Kongo Rikishi (Nio) (cultural property designated by Kyoto Prefecture)
Jizo-do hall: Houses the Atago Honjibutsu fire-protection Jizo statue
Fureai Kannon-do hall
Sanpo bell
1200 stone Arhat statues

Cultural properties

Important Cultural Properties
Main hall
Wooden seated statue of Senkan Naiku

Visitor information
Opening days: Every day
Opening hours; 8 am to 5 pm
Address: 2-5 Saga Torii Motofukatani-cho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture

Access
Walk for 5 minutes from Saga Arashiyama on the JR Sanin Main Line to 'Suminokura-cho' bus stop and take the bus for 15 minutes for Kiyotaki to 'Otagi-dera mae' bus stop. Take the number 72 Kyoto Bus for Kiyotaki for 60 minutes from Kyoto Station on the JR Kyoto Line to 'Otagi-dera mae' bus stop.