Nioi no Shogyo (the Fragrant Scriptures)

This is a group of sutra scrolls passed down by the heads of the temple from generation to generation with great care. It is called Nioi no Shogyo, the fragrant scriptures, according to the legend of Ishiyamadera Temple. The scriptures were handwritten by the third Head of the temple, Shunnyu Naiku, and was designated as […]

Sanko no Matsu (Pine tree of the three-pronged mythical weapon)

In 808, when Kobo Daishi finished ascetic practices in the Tang Dynasty China, his master Huiguo gave him a sankosho, three-pronged mythical weapon, which is one of the esoteric Buddhist instruments. Kobo Daishi made a wish into the sankosho so that it could go to the land suitable for him to disseminate every single esoteric […]

Visits to Ishiyama Temple

During the Heian period [between the 9th and 12th centuries], visits to Ishiyama were popular among the nobles, and many female writers are also said to have visited Ishiyamadera Temple. They wrote about their visits and the days of confinement in Ishiyamadera Temple, and made lots of waka poems set in Ishiyama. The mother of […]

Akugenta’s Hideout Valley

Yoshihira, the first son of Minamoto no Yositomo, was famous for his bravery at his young age and was called “Akugenta”. “Aku” means strong, “genta” means the first son of Minamoto family. His father, Minamoto no Yoshitomo was defeated in a power struggle by Taira no Kiyomori in the Heiji Rebellion. The father and son […]

The Tale of Genji and Murasaki Shikibu

Murasaki Shikibu lost her mother in her early years and was brought up by her father Fujiwara no Tametoki, a literati. She was familiar with Chinese books from her childhood and gifted in literature. Around 998, she was married to Fujiwara no Nobutaka, a government official, but he passed away after only two years of […]

The origin of the foundation of Ishiyamadera Temple

Ishiyamadera Temple is lively with many visitors as the 13th stop on the Saigoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage. It was reportedly established during the Emperor Shomu’s reign in the Nara period [in the 8th century]. One day the Emperor Shomu came up with the idea of constructing a large statue of the Buddha and ordered Roben, […]


This is a ceremony to confess and expiate one’s own sins by prostrating and reciting the 3,000 names of Buddha in the past, present and future. Although this is originally an ascetic practice for new monks, the general public can participate in the ceremony in Ishiyamadera Temple. Every year, it takes place for three days […]

Autumn Moon Festival / Murasaki Shikibu Memorial Service

Ishiyamadera Temple has been famous as a notable site for moon viewing. It is also known that Murasaki Shikibu once confined herself in Ishiyamadera Temple to pray, and developed the plan of The Tale of Genji, watching the moon reflecting in the surface of the lake. The Autumn Moon Festival takes place when the harvest […]

Bishamon-e Memorial Service

Every year, August 26 is the day of a special relation with Bishamonten (Vaisrovana in Sanskrit), once a year. At Ishiyamadera Temple, the memorial service takes place in front of the statue of Tobatsu-bishamonten, the principal image of the Bishamondo, and local visitors participate in the service. Bishamonten is worshipped as the deity of military […]

Okuribi Ceremonial Bonfire Memorial Service

This is a memorial service for the spirits of ancestors welcomed at the Sennichi-e Memorial Service and Obon festival to be consoled and to depart by boats. At Ishiyamadera Temple, paper-thin strips of wood with names of the deceased which were used at the Sennichi-e festival are removed from the lanterns and are worshiped at […]