Old temple of the Pure Land Sect
With legend of Princess Chujo who weaved a Mandala using lotus yarns
Nijozan is a 517-meter high mountain straddling Katsuragi City, Nara and Taishi Town, Osaka. Sekkoji is a temple of the Pure Land Sect on the eastern base of the mountain. It is said that three glowing stones were found here around 670. Digging the place, people found a Maitreya trinity. The emperor at the time built a hall and enshrined the Maitreya image as the principal image, which is the origin of the temple.
Around 750, a pious 17-year old princess named Chujo-hime got inspiration to weave a mandala depicting the Pure Land and span yarns from lotus stems. According to legends, she had a well dug in a garden of Sekkoji, dyed the lotus yarns in five colors using the well and dried them on a cherry tree. There are a well called “Some-no-I (well for dying)” and “Itokake-zakura (cherry tree hung with yarns.” This is why the temple is also called Some-dera.
There are 3,000 peony trees of about 500 kinds that bloom gorgeously from April to May. Some of the peonies bloom in winter. So the temple is also called “Peony temple” among flower lovers. During an excavation at the occasion of reconstruction of a hall, the oldest stone statue of Maitreya in Japan was unearthed and designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan.
- 387 Someno, Katsuragi City, Nara