Kinpusen-ji Temple (Zaodo,location,history)

Kinpusen-ji Temple, Zaodo

The information about Kinpusen-ji Temple is presented here. Kinpusen-ji Temple was added to the list of World Heritage Sites in 2004 as a “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range”. Yoshinoyama, where Kinpusen-ji Temple was built, has long been famous for its cherry blossoms, and the areas with the most cherry trees are said to be Shimo-Senbon, Naka-Senbon, Kami-Senbon, and Okusenbon. Yoshinoyama is planted with about 30,000 cherry trees, including Shiro Yama-zakura (White Mountain Cherry Tree), and the best time to see them is from early April.

【Kinpusen-ji Temple Location Map & Directions】

Address: 2498 Yoshinoyama, Yoshino-cho, Yoshino-gun, Nara Prefecture, Japan
Access (How to get there): Yoshinoyama Ropeway Station (about 10 minutes on foot)

【Opening Hours & Closed (confirmation required)】

Opening Hours: 8:30-16:30 (Registration closes at 16:00)
Closed: open year round

【Entrance Fees & Tickets (confirmation required)】

Individual: Adults 500 yen

【Kinpusen-ji Temple History】

During the Hakuho period (late 7th century) , En-no-Gyoja (En-no-Oduno), the founder of the Shugendo sect, trained for 1,000 days at Mt. Sajogatake, the summit of Mt. Kinpu-san, and sensed Kongo Zao Daigongen and made him the main deity of the Shugendo sect. It is also said that the origin of Kinpusen-ji Temple is that En-no-Gyoja carved Kongo Zao Daigongen on a yama-zakura (mountain cherry tree) and enshrined the statue of Kongo Zao Daigongen at the top of Mt. Sajogatake and Yoshinoyama, which is located under the mountain (Sange). Cherry trees are considered sacred trees on Yoshinoyama, and many cherry trees are said to have been planted there since around the Heian period (794-1185). When En-no-Gyoja prayed to obtain the main deity of the Shugendo sect to save sentient beings living in suffering, the three Buddhas of Shaka Nyorai, Senju Senju Kannon Bosatsu and Miroku Bosatsu, first appeared, but it was thought that their gentle appearance would not save the suffering sentient beings. As En-no-Gyoja continued to pray, the heavens and the earth rumbled, and the great rock on Mt. Sajogatake cracked open, revealing the wrathful Kongo Zao Daigongen, who seemed to burst forth with a thunderous roar. Kongo Zao Daigongen was the reappearance of Shaka Nyorai, Senju Senju Kannon Bosatsu, and Miroku Bosatsu, who had abandoned their gentle appearance and reappeared in wrathful and violent appearance. In 894, Kinpusen-ji Temple was revived by Rigen-daishi Shobo, the founder of Daigo-ji Temple and a grand disciple of Kobo-daishi Kukai, the founder of the Shingon sect. According to the “Shobo-sojo Den”, Kinpusen-ji Temple had fallen into disrepair, so Rigen-daishi Shobo improved the pilgrimage route, built a do (hall), and housed the statue of Nyoirin Kannon, Tamonten, and Kongo Zao Bosatsu. Since that time, Kinpusen-ji Temple has been revered by the royal family, aristocrats, and the general populace, and has flourished as a konpon dojo (fundamental center) of the Shugendo sect. In 900, the 59th Emperor Uda visited Kinpusen-ji Temple, and in 1007, Fujiwara no Michinaga, visited Kinpusen-ji Temple. Fujiwara no Michinaga built Kinpusan Kyoduka (sutra mound) near Zaodo on Mt. Sajogatake, and it is said to be the oldest Kyoduka (sutra mound) in Japan. A sutra pipe buried in the Edo period (1603-1868) was excavated and is currently in the collection of Kinpu Shrine. In 1088, Fujiwara no Moromichi visited Kinpusen-ji Temple, and in 1092, the 72nd Emperor Shirakawa visited Kinpusen-ji Temple. Zaodo was burned down in 1093, but was later rebuilt. In 1225 and 1264, Zaodo was destroyed by fire and was rebuilt each time. In 1333, Niten-mon Gate was destroyed by fire, but Zaodo was spared from destruction. In 1331, the 96th Emperor Go-Daigo, the first of the Southern Court, attempted to overthrow the Kamakura Shogunate, and in 1332, Moriyoshi Shinno, a prince of Emperor Go-Daigo, hid in Yoshino Castle, and in 1333, when the army of the Kamakura Shogunate attacked, Murakami Yoshimitsu committed suicide at Niten-mon Gate, and Moriyoshi Shinno retreated. In 1348, the entire temple complex was burned down by Ko Moronao, a vassal of Ashikaga Takauji, the 1st Shogun of the Muromachi Shogunate, and then Zaodo was rebuilt. It is said that Zaodo burned down in 1586 and was rebuilt around 1592 with a donation from Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Toyotomi Hideyoshi held a cherry blossom viewing in Yoshinoyama in 1594. In the Edo period (1603-1867), by order of the Edo shogunate, Kinpusen-ji Temple came under the control of Nikko Rinno-ji Temple, monzeki-jiin (temple) of the Tendai sect, and was strongly influenced by Enryaku-ji Temple, the main temple of the Tendai sect. In 1614, Tenkai, a monk of the Tendai sect, became the head of Kinpusen-ji Temple by the order of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the 1st shogun of the Edo shogunate. In 1772, Motoori Norinaga, a scholar of Japanese studies and literature, visited Kinpusen-ji Temple and saw Zao Gongen. After the Meiji Restoration, Shugendo was banned and Kinpusen-ji Temple was abandoned for a time. In 1886, Kinpusen-ji Temple was revived as a temple of the Tendai sect, and in 1948, it founded the Kinpusen Shugen Honshu sect and became the main temple.
*reference・・・Kinpusen-ji Temple website

【Kinpusen-ji Temple Highlights (May be undisclosed)】

★Zaodo (蔵王堂, Hondo, 本堂, National Treasure) is said to have been rebuilt around 1592 with a donation from Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Zaodo houses three statues of Zao Gongen, which are considered to be hidden Buddha statues, in the zushi. The three Zao Gongen statues are about 728 cm high in the center, about 615 cm high on the right side, and about 592 cm high on the left. According to the temple legend, the center is Shakan Nyorai, the right side is Senju Kannon, and the left side is Miroku Bosatsu, symbolizing the past, this world, and the hereafter, respectively.
★Nio-mon Gate (仁王門, National Treasure) is said to have been rebuilt in 1456. Nio-mon Gate is about 20.3 meters high and is said to be one of the tallest gates in Japan. Nio-mon Gate houses 5.1 meter high statues of Kongorikishi (Nio), the second tallest statue in Japan after Todai-ji Temple.
★The Copper Torii Gate (銅鳥居, Important Cultural Property) was destroyed by a military fire in 1348 by Ko Moronao, a vassal of Ashikaga Takauji, the 1st Shogun of the Muromachi Shogunate, and was rebuilt in the middle Muromachi period (1393-1466). The Copper Torii Gate is about 7.5 meters high with a pillar circumference of 3.3 meters. The Copper Torii Gate, also called Hoshin-mon, and is one of the four gates (Hoshin-mon, Shugyo-mon, Tokaku-mon and Myokaku-mon) that were built on the ascetic path leading from Yoshino to Mt. Omine.
金峯山寺見どころ (Kinpusen-ji Temple Highlights)

【Events (confirmation required)】

★Setsubun-e (節分会) Onibi-no-Saiten (鬼火の祭典) is held every year on Setsubun (the day before the first day of spring). At Setsubun-e Onibi-no-Saiten, syugenja (yamabushi) perform Nissu Shinkyo, which chant the Hannya Shingyo for the year and praying for good fortune and protection from disasters throughout the year. Afterwards, Oni-no-chofukushiki (demon reconciliation ceremony) is held to throw beans at the demons. Gorgeous prizes are also prepared.
★Hanaku Senbon-e (花供懺法会) is held every year from April 10th to 12th. At Hanaku Senbon-e, cherry blossoms, a sacred tree, are offered to the main deity of Zao Gongen, and the blooming of the cherry blossoms is reported. In addition, on Hanaku Senbon-e, a procession of yakko, monks, children, demons, yamabushi, and daimyo baskets, parades from Chikurin-in to Zaodo of Kinpusen-ji Temple.
★Renge-e (蓮華会) Kaerutobi-gouji (蛙飛び行事) is held every year on July 7th. At Renge-e, pure lotus flowers from Benten Pond in Okuda, Yamatotakada City, which is said to have been used by En-no-Gyoja (En-no-Oduno), the founder of the Shugendo sect, for his birth bath, are offered to the main deity of Zao Gongen. In Kaerutobi-gouji, a taikodai parade with a large green frog on it goes from Chikurin-in to Kinpusenji Temple and finally to the main hall of the temple. When the Buddhist memorial service begins in the main hall, the frog jumps and finally returns to its human form.

【Flower Calendar (cherry blossoms, etc )】

★The best time to see cherry blossoms (桜) is from early April to mid-April. Shiro Yama-zakura (White Mountain Cherry Tree), Somei Yoshino, and other cherry trees are planted, and the scenery of cherry trees and Zaodo is said to be beautiful. In the square in front of Zaodo, there is a cherry tree called “Shihon-zakura” (four cherry trees).
(The best time to see the plants depends on the climate of the year.)

【Telephone (Please refrain from making phone calls.)】

Tel: +81-746-32-8371

【Recommended Walking Route】

The recommended walking route from Kinpusen-ji Temple is to take a walk to Yoshimizu Shrine, which is located to the southeast. Yoshimizu Shrine is associated with Minamoto no Yoshitsune and the 96th Emperor Go-Daigo, and visitors can feel the history of the area. Yoshinoyama, where Kinpusen-ji Temple is located, is famous for its cherry blossoms, so you may want to take a leisurely walk in Yoshinoyama during the cherry blossom season.

【Remarks(access, parking, disclaimer, etc)】
If you plan to visit Kinpusen-ji Temple, be sure to check the latest information.


  1. 柳生一刀石
  2. 若草山
  3. 吉野山