Visiting Murouji, also known as Nyoninkouya
Murouji is hidden in the deep mountains of Nara. A long time ago, women weren’t allowed to enter high hills and fields, but they could visit this temple, and that’s how it gained its nickname, “Nyouinkouya”, which means “women in high fields”.
Slowly walking up the steps surrounded by green trees on the temple ground, we are now heading up to the Main Hall where the Buddha awaits us. You can see the rhododendron trees on both sides of the steps. It is very picturesque during any season and not just when the flowers are blooming.
These steps are sometimes called “Slope of the Armor” （Yoroi-saka) with its similarity to the shape of the armor of the warriors.
The Buddhas in the Main Hall.
There lined up are the Buddha statues.
Five at the back and Twelve Divine deities in front.
It is more like a museum than a temple.
Shaka Nyorai (Sakyamuni)
Shaka Nyorai (Sakyamuni) stands at the very center.
The piece is considered to be created in the Heian Period and it is a national treasure.
The halo on the back is painted with rich colors. The light pattern like water flow on the neck of the dress is called Renpa-shiki (ripples style). It is considered the unique pattern of Murouji temple statue.
Juichimen-Kannon (Eleven-faced Goddess of Mercy)
Another national treasure in Kondo(Golden Pavilion) Hall of Murouji Temple is this Eleven-faced Goddess of Mercy.
The neck pack pattern of the dress of this goddess is also Renpa-shiki (ripples style). This is the representative Buddha statue of Muroji-temple.
There are ten heads on the head of the Juichimen-Kannon to save people.
Apparently, Buddha statues with such well preserved, vivid colors are very rare.
Also, all other statues in the main hall that aren’t considered to be national treasures are important cultural properties. You should go see them with your own eyes.
Taking a walk in the temple grounds of Murouji
There are many old temple halls inside the Murouji grounds. The buildings seem to be melting into the mountain greenery and almost make you feel the echoes of history.
After you reach the inner part of the temple and climb a long path full of stone steps, you will see the five-storied pagoda of Murouji.
It’s also one of the national treasures of Japan. It’s the smallest of the five-storied pagodas that stand outdoors. It’s also the second oldest five-storied pagoda in Japan, right after the one in the Houryuuji complex.
Murouji has its history and flavor.
Please make sure to visit it at least once.