Friday, May 4, 2012

Mount Kōya for Women

Murōji Temple in Nara lies on the mountainside of Mount.Murō whose conic figure is likened to a bud of lotus flowers. Different from many other temples of that time, women were admitted to it so this temple is  known as 女人高野 (nyonin- Kōya); Mount Kōya for Women. While passing down a various cultural heritage, it also has been showing quiet beauty in harmony with nature in every season.
Especially shakunage (Rhododendron) featuring the precincts at this time of the year has attracted visitors.

        You can see the drum bridge leading to the gate on the left. 

shibazakura;moss phlox, on the bank on the way to the gate

According to the extant record kept by the temple, a successful ritual praying to Rūjin ( dragon deity, deity of water), who was supposed to live deep in the mountain stream, for Prince Yamabe ( later to become Emperor Kammu) to cure the disease made a monk of  Kōfukuji temple build a temple on this site as the imperial court order.  

It’s quite understandable people believed and revered some mystic power in the place like this surrounded with a deep mountain and clear stream. They have also done a ritual for rain here.

                                       Kondo ( national treasure, early Heian Period )

Five storied pagoda (national treasure), the smallest kind standing in the open air, remains from 9th century, the second oldest to that of Hōryūji Temple.

Hanazuo (Chinese redbud )

Its finial form is rare; there’s a pot-like Hobyo instead of Suien and a canopy like an umbrella over it. The right side picture from wikipedia shows the usual style of finial.
The extant record says Rūjin was kept in Hobyo by the monk who was in charge of building the temple.

Passing by the pagoda, you are into the pass leading to 奥の院( Okunoin), 御影堂(Mieido), dedicated to Kūkai and stilted building called 位牌堂(Ihaido).
You have to climb up around 400 stone steps to reach there.

You have to be more careful in stepping down the stairs.

Hondo ( national treasure)

red gate

I was lucky enough to visit here this time; to see the flowers in their prime time and what’s more, I was given an unexpected free gift as the 500th visitor during the event, however I don’t know what event and since when, considering the relatively small number. Anyway I was happy to get a delicacy made of fresh local product.


  1. The pagoda is particularly beautiful - how I'd love to see it! I have not heard of moss phlox, and I'll look it up because I'd like to grow it here. I grow ordinary phlox, but it doesn't look like that.

    Everything looks so fertile and healthy. It is partly because of the time of year, when all the plants are new, but I suspect also that the plants are well tended. Thank you for this glimpse of a really beautiful place. ,

  2. There are green colors only spring can bring, which is explicit in your photos. The relatively small pagoda stands magnificently especially seen from the lower ground. I love the fifth image, it is as nice as Irie Taikichi’s...., I mean it. I’ve been there in summer and winter though I don’t remember why. You made me feel like visiting there in the right time for rhododendrons. Now I’m content with the rhododendrons in my garden at their best. Thank you for the explanation about the Pagoda’s finial.

  3. The flowers, the colours, the tall trees, the patchwork mountains with their light greens and deep greens … you've just taken us on such a beautiful walk!

    PS: The temple allowed women? That's even more reason to like it! :)

  4. ひんやりとした水の流れる傍の空気と奥山の清浄感がどの写真からも感じられます。シャクナゲ美しいですね。自然とその背景に触れて書かれたcosmosさんらしいPostだと思いました。台風で塔が損害を受けたのも随分前になりますね。堂々とした構えに復元されていて又行ってみたくなりました。

  5. 新緑のみずみずしさの中の薄いピンクのシャクナゲ。深山の中にたつお堂。とても素敵に撮れてますね。頂華もかわいらしいですね。説明ありがとうございます。

  6. こんばんは

    私は学生時代訪ねたおりは、夏でふうふう言いながらこの階段を上ったのを思い出しました。本当にどの写真も心が洗われるよう! ありがとうございます。

  7. Hello, cosmos.

      Colors of green and petal is fused.
      The work including spring.
      The vitality of the heart is made to arise.

      I am glad of your visit, though each other is far distantly.
      The prayer for all peace and healthy.
    Have a good weekend. ruma ❃

  8. Gorgeous images of a place so beautiful and ancient. How fortunate that you could visit the pagoda when the flowers were in full bloom so that we too could have a glimpse of it through your eyes. Really makes me wish to visit this place. I am sure you being the 500th visitor during the event made this trip all the more special for you. Many thanks for the virtual tour, I felt like I was with you all along.

  9. Cosmos,
    I did not know Shakunage have such a delicate and subtle beauty!! Almost my dream scenery!! Magnificent!!
    The air itself seems to have some special energy source. I hope to visit this place and breathe in the air.
    The myth of a dragon is interesting. Once upon a time, in Sarusawa Pond of Kofuku-ji Temple a dragon deity had lived. According to one of legends, one day a court lady threw herself to the pond to kill herself. The dragon could not live in the impure water dirtied by the death, so it moved to Mt. Kasuga, and then went to Muroo's dragon hole.
    Your blog made me crave to go this place to take photos!!

  10. What a spectacular place - it's like entering a secret heaven here on earth.

  11. 石楠花は5月に、どちらかといえば山間の涼しい場所を好んで咲く花のように思えます。どこにでも咲く花ではなく人目を避けて咲くその花は女人の郷をより上品に引きたててくれているようですね。薄いピンクの花がひとところに集まり咲く様子は可憐です。500番目が何を意味するのか分からなくてもcosmosさんのLuckyが私も嬉しいです(o^-')b ヤッタネ!

  12. Hello Cosmos!
    It must be wonderful to actually walk around this place,mature yet so vibrant.Your lovely photos give us a glimpse of the beauty of these grounds.I particularly like the old trees and the wooden construction of the buildings,standing side by side.
    I love rhododendrons an enjoy visiting them in our local botanic gardens at this time of year.My own bushes bloomed early this year because of unusually warm weather in March and were then prematurely damaged by April wind and rain.

    Have a great week!

  13. Jenny
    Shiba-zakura means “ lawn cherry” so they are a kind of creeping ones. Wikipedia says its English name is moss phlox. I grew ordinary phlox in the pot and as you say they looked different from shiba-zakura.
    The atmosphere of the temple rich in nature along with architectural and cultural and historical significance attracted many photographers or writers as well.

    As far as I remember, it was the first time to be in time for their prime time. I usually hate a long drive but I got up enough nerve to drive there for myself because I was afraid I would miss the timing if I waited for my husband’s day off.
    It turned out to be worth visiting it. Full of fresh green of the trees and elegant rhododendrons were so beautiful and easy on my eyes.

    Yes. I wrote it was at the end of 17thcentury that it was open to women unlike many other temples of that age but I was wrong. It seems much earlier than that.
    Now car road is constructed and it’s an easy access to it but in those days to live in such a primeval forest must have required lots of reasons and faith. However it was good women who needed that were accepted.



  14. The place seems overwhelmingly peaceful, with the incredible lush forest and wild growing flowers!
    I can understand why they used to perform a ritual for rain here. It must be so beautiful to stay there and listen to the rain seated on one of the 400 stairs, sheltered by those ancient trees... Even the rhododendron seems like water transformed into delicate flowers!

    The close-up with the two trees is impressive, but I honestly cannot say which picture I liked the most. And put together they perfectly present a place I only wish I'd seen with my own eyes...

  15. Sapphire

    Thank you, Ruma, for visiting and leaving the comment.
    I always admire for your work: to show culture and beauty of Japan to people in the world through your calligraphy and pictures and tank poems.
    I’m discovering or I should say rediscovering the beauty in Nara myself.

    Arti, thank you for your lovely comment.
    This pagoda is the smallest one standing outside in the open air but it has been a stately presence. I’d like to come here again in summer or in fall and take a leisurely walk in this rich forest.

    Snowwhite, I’ve read the story about Ryujin too. Murōji was closely connected to Kōfukuji, so the story is understandable. How interesting!
    I’m afraid I was not able to do justice to its deep beauty of the temple but YOU can! I’m looking forward to it. Thank you for your nice comment.

    “it’s like entering a secret heaven here on earth”, yes, it’s really something like that.
    There are lots of good temples in Nara but I like this location and an atmosphere of this temple.Thank you for stopping by. I always love your magical photos and words to go with.


  16. Dear Cosmos,

    Nowadays we don't have a similar deity in Romania because our population is entirely christian (orthodox most of it), but our ancestors, the Dacians, had one. His name was Gebeleizis and he was the supreme god over the skies, lightning and thunder being his main manifestations. According to greek ancient historian Herodotus, he was one and the same with Zalmoxis (

    Thank you for the extra information added in your comments. I enjoyed reading it for I find these place-related stories extremely fascinating!

    My warmest greetings and enjoy the rest of the week!

  17. I'm so glad you had the fortitude to drive yourself to this wonderful place. Perhaps the temple women were smiling upon you for taking the initiative. You won a prize and found breathtaking beauty. I especially like the picture of the drum bridge amid the tapestry of trees. It would make a spectacular painting.

  18. Hello Ruby,
    This place is so verdured and this species of rhodorendrons growing well in this mountainous a signature flower of this temple. Because of the reason you mentioned; “big old trees and the wooden construction of the building standing side by side”, the roofs of the pagoda got damaged seriously by the falling tree caused by a big typhoon 14 years ago. Fortunately it was restored with utmost care over following two years. Thank you for your comment, Ruby.

    Dear Roxana,
    I can imagine you sitting in this lush beautiful forest and listening to the rain. Now that Ryujin; an indigenous deity of water has been believed to live here, they prayed for rain. Do you have such kind of deity in your country? I love the atmosphere the ancient place like this forest produces and beautiful foliage and flowers as well. Thank you Roxana for visiting here.

    P.S Thank you for a link. I can see your country’s long history and Zalmoxian religion a bit. It’s interesting to read history and mythology, here as well. Have a nice weekend!

    Thank you W2W for a lovely comment. I like the way you see it. The prize was delicate rice crackers, each of which contained a different wild plant as the way it was. They were beautiful to see and good to taste! I hope you are having a nice weekend seeing your satisfied work of gardening !

  19. so interesting and are lucky to get to visit!

  20. I've visited Nara many times, but I think I missed this place. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Thank you Amaud for stopping by.
    You seem to be well versed in Japanese mythology, culture and history related to temples and shrines. I have lots of things to learn even my home town Nara.

  22. 新しいヘッダー。素晴らしい shot! 思わず私も飛び立ちそう!

  23. Only now my town looks as green and blooming as your pictures ^^ Spring comes later here.

    I feel such a nice freshness when looking at these photos.

  24. Hello, cosmos.

     Your heartwarming works fascinates my heart.

     Thank you for your kindness.
     And i pray for you and yours peace.

    Have a good new-week. ruma ❃

  25. こんばんは。 女人高野こと室生寺ですか、私は去年の紅葉の頃行きました。
     私の知ってるかぎりでは京都の英語のブログの様な者はFacebook に居るKyoto fan だけです。

  26. Minoruさん
    私の一番最初のブログWelcome to my blogにも書きましたが、ある大学のご好意で3か月間だけEnglish writing classにOnlineのAdult studentとして参加させていただきました。その時英語でブログを立ち上げるというのがHomeworkとなったのがそもそもの始まりです。



  27. Dear Keiko, Nara looks like a faryland with the temples lost in flowers. It is so far from my reality and so nice.

    1. Thank you Tattina for coming!
      "so far from my reality"? I hope everything is fine with you. We seem to have lots of problems to remain unsolved here but it is deplorable things are so tardy progress.
      Stay cool and take good care of yourself, Tattina.


Thank you for visiting and leaving comments. It's really encouraging!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...