Negoro-ji is a beautiful set of temples of the Shingon (True Word) Sect of Buddhism located in Wakayama prefecture. The huge number of cherry blossom trees on the temple grounds make it a popular site for cherry blossom viewing (ohanami) in the spring. During the fall, the maple trees provide visitors with a beautiful vista of autumn colors.
The temples were founded by Kakuban, who formed a subsect of Shingon Buddhism that sought to revert to its esoteric fundamentals. He moved from Mt. Koya,the seat of Shingon Buddhism, to Negoro in 1140 and construction was begun on two temples within the compound. Unfortunately, Kakuban died in 1143 at the age of 49 and the building of the remaining temples was left to those who came after him.
The number of temples grew and Negoro-ji became a famous seat of learning for Shingon Buddhism, being included in 3 most famous mountain universities in Japan. Priests from all over Japan came to study and is said to have grown to include 2700 lecture halls and temples.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi destroyed all but a few of the temples in 1585, thus those that are on the grounds today date mostly to the Edo period.
Negoro-ji provides many interesting similarities for those who have visited Mt. Koya, the seat of Shingon Buddhism. The walk to the Okunoin which passes through a tree-lined graveyard is reminiscent of Mt. Koya, as is the small tumulus in which Kakuban is buried at the Okunoin (Kukai is said to have been buried alive while in meditation to await Maitreya at the Okunoin at Mt. Koya). One large difference is the lack of foreign tourists at Negoro-ji.
Negoro, Iwade-cho, Naka-gun, Wakayama 649-6202
Ph. Intl + 81-736-62-1144
FAX Intl + 81-736-62-1044
Driving:Negoro-ji difficult to get to without a car and someone who can read Japanese signs. Heading towards Wakayama from Sakai on the Hanwado Expressway, get off at the Sennan Exit, and take the road leading to Hashimoto. Turn left at the streetlight with the hotel on the corner (the hotel that has a castle turrent on it).
Taxi: Take a taxi from either Iwade Railway Station or Kii Railway Station.
Bus: There is bus service; however, rural buses often do not run on time and bus stops and announcements are in Japanese, so without Japanese linguistic ability, going to the temple by bus is not advisable.
Copyright, A.E.L.S., Inc. (Billy Hammond), June 2001. 2012. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited.