Keisokuzan Yatoji-temple
Shingon-shu Omuro-ha
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Origins 

1,100 years ago, one night, Goddess Kannon appeared in the dream of Japanfs 60th Emperor Daigo (897 - 930). Kannon said that she lived in Mt. Nonobori in Ise (Mie prefecture) and that the people there were in trouble; farmers faced difficulties, and the country was confronted with a crisis. People had prayed to Goddess Kannon for a peaceful and quiet life, and now she had come to seek the mighty emperorfs help. As soon as he woke, Emperor Daigo sent out an imperial messenger to Mt. Nonobori, still wondering about his dream.

Unfortunately, the messenger lost his way at the foot of the mountain, but a three-legged bird appeared and miraculously guided him to the top of Mt. Nonobori. On the mountaintop, a clear fountain gushed and cedars trees grew thick and tall. Surprised at the mysterious abundance, the messenger stood silent, admiring the view. Suddenly, an aged Buddhist priest appeared in front of him. gThank you for coming by the Imperial order,h said the priest, gWelcome to Mt. Nonobori. I will guide you.h The priest took the messenger to the main temple hall. The messenger opened the temple doors and came upon people worshipping a 2.2 meter high Thousand Armed Avalokiteshwara (Goddess Kannon with thousand hands). gThis Thousand Armed Avalokiteshwara was carved by Sun Goddess, Amaterasu Oomikami,h The priest told the messenger, gShe is a Buddha, helping people by turning into various figures depending on their wish.h Then, the priest disappeared as suddenly as he had appeared. The messenger came to, and to his utter surprise, realized that the old priest was none other than the Thousand Armed Avalokiteshwara. He hurried back to Kyoto and reported the miracle to the Emperor. Surprised at the truth of his dream, the Emperor immediately requested saint Sencho, a famous religious figure in Kyoto, to construct a temple of Kannon at the mountain. The Emperor offered precious wood, and the saint, agreeing to the task, sent several skilled carpenters to Mt. Nonobori. Construction began in 907 and lasted until 910. The temple was named Yato-ji, after Mt. Yato, another pronunciation of Mt. Nonobori when written in Chinese character. Mt. Nonobori was also called Keisoku-zan (Mt. Keisoku) after the three-legged bird (Kei = fowl, Soku = leg). Keisoku-zan Yato-ji prospered for 680 years and was served by 100 priests.

However, in 1583, in an attack on Kameyama-jo Castle by Hideyoshi Toyotomi, Keisoku-zan Yato-ji was burnt and the temple land forfeited. In 1601, thanks to a donation by the lord of Kameyama castle, the temple was reconstructed. Ever since, devout worshippers have continued using the temple, and it is brought back to its former glory.



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