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Kontai-ji, Kyoto-Fu, Sōraku County, Wazuka-cho — October 6, 2011 at 9:39 am

Kontai-ji Temple on Jyubu Mountain: A Yamabushi training camp of Old!

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Today I went on an ‘out of the box’ adventure to Kontai-ji temple on Mount Jyubu near Wazuka-cho in Soraku-gun. Relying heavily on the help of i-pad navigation, we arrived at Mount Jyubu, and as my daughter will testify, the road winding up the 685 meter high mountain was full of fear and excitement (mainly fear on her part). Parking on a roadside embankment and shivering in the unseasonal cool air, we had to hike up a steep incline till we reached the temple, by the end of which we were panting and pleasantly refreshed (I advise hiking shoes).
The temple itself was slightly run-down and decrepit, but possessed an air of peace and tranquility which one can often find in Japanese shrines. Though a bit hard to access, the view from the top is spectacular; there is an overhang which shows an amazing view of Shiga Prefecture and can be used for the viewing of the sunrise on New Year’s day, a popular tradition in Japan. There also were a few hiking trails which would lead around some popular Shinto sites, popular with young college students in the area since it is accessible by bus. Hiking up a bit, we came to clearing with a run-down pagoda and a few other buildings, though we weren’t devoted enough to go any further that day. After having our full of the temples and shrines, we went slightly down the mountain to take pictures of the breathtaking view of the sunset nestled between hills of tea groves.
Kontai-ji was built 1,300 years ago near the end of the 7th century and rebuilt in the year 722 by Master Taichou. In olden times this temple belonged to the Tendai Sect, though during the period of the Civil Wars it changed to the Shingon Sect, to which it has belonged ever since .It is said that during the Heian Period more than fifty buildings were built here, though most of the temple was destroyed by fire during the wars of the Kamakura Period. In the year 1331, the famous Emperor Godaigo visited this temple for an exorcism as recorded in the Taihei-ki, and it is said because of this that the temple met with arson, though records are not clear. After Emperor Fushimi retired, he resided in this temple where he built the above-mentioned Taho Pagoda. It is said that once this mountain was a training ground for the ‘yamabushi’, mountain ascetic warrior.
The Eastern side of Mount Jyubu is particularly beautiful, with natural woods preserved by the Prefecture and famous for its bizarre rocks and hiking trails. Kontai-ji also contains some Buddhist images which are designated as Important Cultural Property.

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