About Iwayaji temple

Iwayaji is a sacred place located in a 700-meter mountain and is affiliated to the Buzan sect of Shingon Buddhism (the head temple is Hasedera in Nara).
Legend has it that, in 815, Kobo Daishi came across this place while in search of a sacred spot and encountered a female mountain hermit called Hokke, who had been from Tosa (present Kochi Prefecture). Having been awed by the venerability of Kobo Daishi, the mountain hermit embraced his precepts and presented him with the mountain where she had been practising asceticism before dying a natural death. Deeply moved by her benevolent deed, Kobo Daishi carved images of Fudo Myo-o from both wood and stone. The wooden image was installed in a newly-constructed temple hall as its principal deity, while the stone image was enshrined in a cave in order that it was hidden from the public, thus making the entire mountain deified. It is believed to have been Kobo Daishi himself who composed a tanka depicting the topography of the mountain, from which the pseudonym of the mountain (Kaiganzan, which literally means “the seaside mountain”) is most likely derived:

Morning mists look like the ocean surface in this deep mountain valley,
and a breeze through the pine trees resembles the ocean wave.

“The Illustrated life story of the Venerable Ippen” (National Treasure, property of Shojokoji temple, Kanagawa Prefecture) describes an episode in which the Venerable Ippen travelled down here for ascetic practices in the mid-Kamakura period, indicating that the place had already been an object of worship for some time. The sacred temple precinct has been designated as National Scenic Beauty and Prefectural Natural Park.

Iwayaji temple, where the Venerable Ippen practiced asceticism

Iwayaji temple, where the Venerable Ippen practiced asceticism
(drawn by En-i, National Treasure, The Illustrated life story of the Venerable Ippen, Vol. 2 (section), Kamakura period, property of Shojokoji temple (more commonly known as Yugyoji temple) in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture)

Bird’s-eye-view image of Iwayaji temple
(Drone shooting by: Photo Office Nakamura, directed by Yutaka Kono)

Click on the following link for more spectacular images of Iwayaji with its towering rock cliffs and surrounding nature in each season
(*Clicking on the link takes you to an external website.)