Japan Kurama Kurama Station

Kuramadera Temple

Ancestral home of warrior legends and a spiritual haven for over a millennium

Photo of Kuramadera Temple, Japan (Kurama-dera main hall by Maarten Heerlien)

Kuramadera Temple is a significant historical and spiritual site in Japan. Founded in the 8th century, this temple, located in the mountains of Kyoto, preserves cultural heritage, including national artifacts and statues. It provides a tranquil setting for reflection and historical insight, deeply connected to the Shugendo tradition.

About Kuramadera Temple

Kuramadera Temple, or Kurama-dera, is set amidst the greenery of Mt. Kurama. Established in 770 AD by Gantei, a student of Ganjin, the temple is a key location for the Kurama-Kokyo sect, honoring the trinity of Sonten: Bishamonten, Senju Kannon, and Goho Maou. This trinity embodies the temple’s spiritual focus, with Bishamonten being particularly significant as the god of warriors.

The temple’s history includes tales of the young Minamoto no Yoshitsune, who trained here. These stories are captured in the Noh play “Kurama Tengu,” which explores the mystical tengu spirits. Kurama-dera is the 19th temple in the New Saigoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage.

Despite several fires, Kurama-dera has been carefully restored. Its architecture, including the Hon-do (main hall) that enshrines the Sonten and houses rarely seen statues, reflects traditional Japanese design. The Reihoden (Treasure Hall) displays artifacts such as wood statues of Bishamonten, Kisshoutennyo, and Zen’nishidouji, all recognized as National Treasures.

After World War II, Kurama-dera, originally part of the Tendai sect, became independent with head priest Kakudo Shigaraki. Its connection to Shugendo emphasizes its relationship with the natural world and the mountain’s tengu guardians.

Kurama-dera holds various cultural events, including New Year prayers and Setsubun, alongside memorials for Yoshitsune. The temple complex includes many sites related to Yoshitsune’s legends.

The landscape around Kurama-dera is significant for Shugendo followers and is believed to be inhabited by the great tengu of the mountain. The temple’s serene location in the Kyoto mountains remains a place where visitors can seek spiritual comfort and engage with Japan’s ancient traditions.

Getting There the easiest way to reach Kuramadera Temple

Around Kuramadera Temple

Kuramadera Temple

Buddhist Temple in Kurama

open 9am - 4:30pm
closed Irregularly


鞍馬寺, 鞍馬

Google MapsApple Maps

Updated 13 Mar 2024 • Report an error

People say about us...

It's an awesome guide and has been so helpful in that it covers much more than just the destinations itself. - Jeff

Brilliant job. Your insight will let us plan our days so much more effectively. Very much appreciated. -  Gordon & Claire