Otokuni-dera Temple (乙訓寺)

Otokuni-dera Temple is a Buddhist temple belonging to the Buzan school of the Shingon Sect located in Nagaokakyo City, Kyoto Prefecture. It is also known as Botan no Tera (Peony Temple).

Summary

According to temple legend, Otokuni-dera Temple is an ancient temple that was founded by the Prince Shotoku under the order of the Emperor Suiko. The precise time and circumstances of the temple's founding are unclear but roof tiles excavated within the precinct have led to estimates placing its founding to the Nara period prior to the establishment of the capital city of Nagaoka-kyo.

After the Emperor Kanmu established the capital city in Nagaoka-kyo in the year 784, Otokuni-dera Temple was expanded to a large size as the guardian of the capital. The temple is believed to have been the place in which Imperial Prince Sawara was confined after becoming suspected as being the mastermind of FUJIWARA no Tanetsugu's assassination and Kukai is also said to have briefly resided here.

The temple maintained a large complex even after the abolishment of Nagaoka-kyo as capital city and it is reputed to have had in excess of 10 priests' living quarters during the Momoyama period.
(In fact, before the construction of the neighboring Nagaokakyo Municipal Nagaoka Dai-san Elementary School, most of the land on which it stands belonged to the temple.)

The temple has only recently become famous as the peony temple but it was once a bleak sight. There now grow 2,000 peony plants which were moved from Hase-dera Temple, the Buzan school Grand Head Temple. These flowers are best viewed from late April to early May.

Cultural properties

Important Cultural Property (Nationally Designated)
Wooden standing statue of Bishamonten: Dating from the latter part of Heian period
Cultural property designated by Nagaokakyo City
Standing statue of the Eleven-faced Kannon Bosatsu
Main hall
Hachiman-sha Shrine
Belfry
Front gate (south gate)
Back gate (east gate)
Others
Lecture hall ruins (preserved buried within the grounds of Nagaokakyo Municipal Nagaoka Dai-san Elementary School)
Otokuni-ji Temple kiln remains

Access

Walk for 15 minutes or take a bus from Nagaoka Tenjin Station on the Hankyu Railways Kyoto Main Line. Walk for 40 minutes or take a bus from Nagaokakyo Station on the JR West Tokaido Main Line (JR Kyoto Line).