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Rozanji Temple

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Rozanji Temple
Rozanji Temple Hall Veranda

Rozanji Temple is located in the central Kyoto city, close to the Kyoto Imperial Park.  This temple can be easily reached by bus from the JR Kyoto station, or a few minute walk from the famous shopping district of Shijo Kawaramichi area.  Rozanji Temple is famously known as the site of the residence of Lady Murasaki Shikibu, a Heian era Noblewoman and the author of the famous novel "The Tale of Genji".

Rozanji Temple is the head temple of the Enjo sect and was given the title Nihon Rozan.  This temple is formally called Rozan Tendaikoji Temple and originated from the Yogan Kongoin Temple, which the priest Ryogen (formally called Jie Daishi and commonly known as Ganzan Daishi) opened at the southern foot of Mt. Funaoka in 938.

                          Rozanji Temple Seals

Rozanji temple moved to the present place in 1573 after the temple suffered the turmoil of the Onin War.  The present temple building was constructed after the temple was burned down by the conflagration of Temmei in 1788.  This is one of the four temples, each of which had an "okurodo (inner sanctum)".  These temples belonged directly to the Imperial court as does the Rozanji Temple even today. 

Amida Buddha Statues in the Main Hall

The main hall keeps a number of statues, such as Amida Sanson, which is said to have been made by the priest Eshin Sozu.  Moreover, the temple has many national treasures, including Ikokujo (a will) written by the priest Jie Daishi.  Every year on the second or third of February, called the day of Setsubun (beginning of Spring), an old time court ceremony of driving out the demons and dispersion of diseases is held at the temple and is known as Onino Horaku.  This event originated from the historical episode that the Head Priest Ryogen dispersed a demon that interfered with Ryogen's religious self-training.  This ceremony is famous as one of the annual traditions in Kyoto.

As mentioned at the beginning of the description at the top, Rozanji Temple is known as the site of residence of Lady Murasaki Shikibu, the author of the famous Heian era novel "The Tale of Genji".  Lady Murasaki, who is known as the most ancient great novelist in the world, lived all her life in the precincts of the Rozanji Temple.  Her great grandfather, Lord Fujiwara Kanesuke, built a mansion which was known as the mansion of Tsutsumi chunagon, and it was here that she was brought up, led a blissful wedded life, gave birth to an only child, a girl named Katako and finally in 1031 ended her days at the age of about 59.  Almost all her numerous literary writings, including the most famous "The Tale of Genji" and "Lady Murasaki's Diaries" were produced at this mansion.  Although it is believed that she wrote some of the novel at a Shiga prefecture temple called Ishiyamadera Temple.  Thus the site has become a prominent place in the world's literary history, and it may well be proud of being the birth place of literature of the world.

Visit my Tale of Genji section in the Tales and Temples for more information about Tale of Genji novel and the related stories.

Here is a video of the Rozanji Temple:

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