The first of Japan's three major sacred places dedicated to Monju is
Visited by many test takers
There is a Japanese saying "Out of the counsel of three comes the wisdom of Monju," meaning that by putting heads together even ordinary people can come up with an idea as good as that of Monju. Monju is Bodhisattva Manjusuri who presides over wisdom. The saying originates from Abemonjuin, the temple famous as the first of the three major sacred places dedicated to Monju in Japan. Established in 645, Monjuin is one of the oldest temples in Japan.
Monju Bosatsu, the principal image of the temple, is a work of Kaikei, a great sculptor of Buddhist images who was active after 1200 during the Kamakura Period. Seven-meter high Monju riding a lion is the largest Monju image in Japan. He is not alone but followed by four attendants. Their majestic appearance is overwhelming. Being a bodhisattva of wisdom, he is believed to help academic achievements. During examination season, many students visit the temple to pray for success with their examination and filled the precinct with ema, wooden plaques to offer a prayer or express gratitude.
The temple is also famous as the birth place of Abeno Seimei, a yin-yang master or specialist to calm ghosts and yokai specters with his witchcraft. Many worshippers visit the temple to pray for protection against bad luck and evil through his psychic powers.
Address: Abeyama, Sakurai City, Nara
Directions: (Train) A 20-minute walk from Sakurai Station on the JR Sakurai Line (one hour and 20 minutes from Shin-Osaka). (Car) 30 minutes from Tenri Interchange on the Nishi Meihan Expressway.