Nakayamadera Temple is located in the famous Takarazuka City of the Hyogo Prefecture in Kansai Region. This temple can be easily reached by taking the Hankyu Railway train to Hankyu Nakayamadera Station from either Osaka or Kyoto.
Hoshikudari Festival is held at this temple on August 9th every year. All the Kannon from the 33 sacred sites in Saikoku Pilgrimage are believed to gather at this temple on the night of August 9th of every year. Visiting the temple on this day is believed to bring about the same benefits as visiting the temple for 46,000 days.
Nakayamadera Temple Seal
Nakayamadera Temple is believed to the first sacred site dedicated to Kannon (Avalokiteshvara: Goddess of Mercy) built by Prince Shotoku Taishi (574-622). Prince Shotoku Taishi, who was a member of the ruling clan in the sixth century was regarded as a great patron of the fledgling Japanese Buddhism and is responsible for building many great temples in the Kansai Region.
The temple's principal object of worship is the eleven-faced Kannon Bodhisattva, which is said to be modelled after the image of Princess Shoman (daughter of King Prasenajit, protector and contemporary of Sakyamuni Buddha) of India.
Kannon statue in the Nakayamadera Hondo
In the medieval period, when the pilgrimage to the 33 Sacred Kannon sites of Japan started, Nakayamadera Temple was regarded as "the center of paradise" and designated as the first pilgrimage station.
Later, in the days of the retired Emperor Kazan in the 10th century, it was designated as the 24th station following the pilgrimage route. Nowadays the first temple visited in the Saikoku Pilgrimage is the Seigantoji Temple in the Wakayama Prefecture.
The temple has inspired numerous legends, songs and stories in its 1400 year long history.
Statue of Prince Shotoku Taishi
Nakayamadera Temple has long been worshipped by successive Imperial Family members and had a devoted following of warriors, including Minamoto-no-Yoritomo (1147-1199), first Shogun and founder of Kamakura Shogunate, and the general public, as the nation's most favored site to pray for safe child delivery.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598) was blessed with the birth of his son Hideyori after praying at Nakayamadera Temple. So, after Hideyoshi died, Hideyori ordered one of his generals, Katsumoto Katagiri, to rebuild the main temple hall, which still stands today.
In the mid 19th century, partly because of the prayers for the safe birth of the child who ascended to the throne as Emperor Meiji, Nakayamadera Temple's spiritual virtues became further widely known and the temple now attracts a multitude of worshippers from around Japan and the world.
The New Year's day visit (every January 1-3) this temple is crowded beyond brim, as many people from the Kansai region visit this temple to get the blessings of Kannon Avalokitesvara.
Here is a video of this magnificent Nakayamadera Temple: