Name : Amanosan Kongoji Temple aka. “Nyonin Koya”
The Japanese seaside town of Rikuzentakata (of Gojo, Nara Prefecture) is home to a tiny temple called Kongoji. It's perched on a hillside and is one of the few structures still intact after recent Japan's earthquake and tsunami of 2011.
Amanosan Kongoji Temple, was founded by the venerable priest Gyoki in the Tempyo era (729–749) on the order of Emperor Shomu. Amanosan Kongoji is the main temple of the Omuro school of the Buddhist Shingon sect, where the monk Kukai (Kobo-daishi) is said to have undergone religious training in the Konin era (810–824).
The temple buildings and pagodas became dilapidated later. However, since the temple was worshiped at and supported by the ex-emperor Goshirakawa and his sister Hachijo-nyoin in the late Heian period (12th century), the temple buildings were reconstructed by the holy priest Akan from Koyasan (a mountainous, sacred place where the headquarters of the Shingon sect is based).
Hachijo-nyoin received from the Koyasan headquarters the image of Kukai drawn by the princely priest Shinnyo, and enshrined it in Amanosan Kongoji’s mieido (hall in which the image/statue of the sect founder is enshrined). In contrast to Koyasan, where women were not admitted, Amanosan Kongoji Temple allowed women to worship Kukai inside the temple. This is the reason why Amanosan Kongoji was dubbed “Nyonin Koya” (literally translated as “women’s Koyasan”).
In the Northern and Southern Courts period in the 14th century, the temple was used as a temporary abode for Emperor Gomurakami, and was called Amano-angu. Amanosan Kongoji Temple possesses a number of national treasures and important cultural properties. The temple’s garden, created in the Muromachi period (1336–1573), brims with seasonal beauty throughout the year, such as cherry blossoms in spring and colorful foliage in autumn.
Open Hours : 9:00-16:30
Admission Fee : Free (400 yen for entry to treasury/garden)