Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple is often confused with Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple. But these two Nenbutsuji Temples are completely different temples. Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple is located in the middle of Saga Toriimoto Preserved Street, while Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple is further up the mountain, past the first torii of Atago Jinja Shrine.
In the Nara Period (766), Emperor Shoutoku, daughter of Emperor Shomu, built a temple in Higashiyama, Kyoto. The temple was named Otagiji Temple after the name of the place at that time.
In the Heian period (794-1185), the temple was severely damaged by flooding from the Kamo River and was abandoned. Soon after, however, the temple was rebuilt by Senkannaigu, a Tendai Buddhist priest.
The temple’s main hall was built in the Kamakura period and is an important cultural property.
Later, in 1922, the hall was moved to its present location for preservation. Since that time, it has been called Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple. However, during World War II, the head priest became absent. A typhoon in 1950 had further exacerbated the destruction. The typhoon caused severe damage to the building and Buddhist statues. As a result, the temple was closed again.
Then, in 1955, the reconstruction works started. Many visitors have carved the Rakan (arhat) statues (about 1200 in number) that now fill the temple grounds to help with the reconstruction.
Nearby spots from Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple
A short distance below the temple is the Toriimoto townscape preservation area with its beautiful streets.
Another Nenbutsuji, Adashino Nenbutsuji, is located in the town of Toriimoto. There, over 8,000 grave stones welcome you.