Takiguchidera Temple is a very small temple next to Gioji Temple in Saga area. This temple began as an Oujo-in temple in the Heian period. The temple was abandoned during the Meiji period due to the abolition of Buddhism. It was rebuilt together with Gioji Temple in the Showa period.
This temple is famous for a sad love episode between Takiguchi Nyudo (Saito Tokiyori before his ordination) and a woman named Yokobue in the Tale of the Heike.
The temple is also the burial place of the head of Nitta Yoshisada. He was a samurai general at the end of the Heian period.
Tale of Takiguchi Nyudo and Yokobue
The Heike Monogatari tells the following story of Takiguchi Nyudo and Yokobue.
Saito Takiguchi Tokiyori was a samurai in the service of Taira-no-Shigemori. Yokobue was a low-ranking courtesan in the service of Kenreimonin, the sister of Taira Shigemori. Tokiyori saw Yokobue dancing at a hanami banquet and fell in love with her. Takiguchi’s father teased him about the difference in their status.
When Tokiyori learned that his love had failed, he was ordained as a priest at Oujoin Temple in Sagano. He became Takiguchi Nyudo. Yokobue heard rumors of his ordination, and wondering if he had abandoned the world for her. Then she sought out the whereabouts of Takiguchi Nyudo. Yokobue came to the temple, but Takiguchi Nyudo refused to see her. Yokobue was at a loss and wrote a song on a nearby stone with the blood of her finger.
Takiguchi Nyudo left Kyoto and moved to Koyasan so as not to be moved by his own feelings. Yokobue also became a nun at Hokkeji soon thereafter. But soon she fell ill. Takiguchi Nyudo, upon hearing this news, practiced Buddhism more and more. Finally he became a high priest, known as the “Sage of Koya”.
Gioji Temple is very close. Highly recommended.