Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple is located in the romantic Saga Arashiyama district of the western parts of the Kyoto city. This temple is about thirty minute walk from the JR Arashiyama Station or the Arashiyama bus stop. As with the Otagi Nenbutsuji temple, walk to this Adashino Nenbutsuji temple is pretty romantic and enchanting.
This temple belongs to the Pure Land sect of Buddhism founded by Monk Honen and later popularized by Monk Shiran Shonin.
This temple is called "Adashino Nenbutsuji". Adashino is the name of place where the temple is located.
From ancient times, the dead used to be buried in Adashino area. "Adashino-no-tsuyu (the dews of Adashino)" has been widely used in Waka poems and others as an expression symbolizing a sense of mortality. This temple is said to have been founded by Kukai (Kobo Daishi, 774-835) who was a priest and also a founder of Shingon Sect of Buddhism.
Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple Seal
According to the temple legend, between 810 and 824, the high priest Kukai buried a thousand stone Buddhist statues and placed a stone image of Gochi Nyorai (Buddha of the five wisdoms) on the side of a river flowing in the middle of Adashino to pray for the souls of the people buried here. He also established a temple called Gochizan-nyoraiji Temple, which was believed to be the origin of this temple, At first, it was a temple of Shingon sect, but in the early Kamakura period, it was made into a training hall of constant prayer of the high priest Honen and was converted into a temple of the Pure Land sect called Nenbutsuji Temple. In the Main hall, reconstructed in 1712, the main statue of the sitting Amitabha Tathagata is placed.
In the precinct of this temple, there are about eight thousand stones of Buddha.
Grave Stones at the Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple Precincts
Originally, they were made a gravestones for the dead who were buried in Adashino area from the Heian period (793-1183) to the Edo period (1615-1868). However the temple has no record on these stones for which they were made. In general, gravestones were made only for the higher class people for several centuries in ancient times, and a very few commoners could have their own gravestones. The eight thousand stones had been scattered throughout Adashino area and covered with bamboo grove for many years. About 100 years ago, they were founded and come to be dedicated in the precinct of the temple. They were arranged in lines. The stone Stupa and the statue of the Buddha are dedicated in the center of them. This form means that celestial beings listen to the Buddha's preachings in the paradise.
On the evenings of August 23rd and 24th every year, more than 1000 candles are offered to these stones of Buddha for reposing of our ancestors spirits. This ceremony is called "Sento-kuyo". The ceremony starts from 6 PM. The enormous numbers of candles send out their lights on them in the evening twilight.