Last updated
Three-story pagoda
with Nachi Falls in the background
Affiliation Tendai
Deity Nyoirin Kannon (Chintamanicakra)
Location8 Nachisan, Nachikatsuura-chō, Higashimuro-gun, Wakayama Prefecture Phone: 0735-55-0001
Founder Ragyō Shōnin
Completed4th century (presumed legendary)

Seiganto-ji (青岸渡寺), Temple of Crossing the Blue Shore, is a Tendai Buddhist temple in Wakayama Prefecture, Japan. In 2004, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with other locations, under the name "Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range". According to a legend, it was founded by the priest Ragyō Shōnin, a monk from India. The temple was purposely built near Nachi Falls, where it may have previously been a site of nature worship. Seiganto-ji is part of the Kumano Sanzan shrine complex, and as such can be considered one of the few jingū-ji (shrine temples, see article Shinbutsu shūgō) still in existence after the forcible separation of Shinto and Buddhism operated by the Japanese government during the Meiji restoration. [1] [2]


It is Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage's No.1 (first stop) and an Important Cultural Properties of Japan.


During the reign of Emperor Nintoku (313 – 399), according to temple legend, Ragyō Shōnin, a monk from India, came here following the river in search of a suitable place in which to practice his austerities and found Nachi waterfall. After practicing shugyō, Kannon appeared to him at the base of the waterfall and so he built a hermitage dedicated to Kannon in this place.

During the reign of Empress Suiko (592 – 628), Shōbutsu Shōnin came here from Yamato in order to undergo austerity practices. At that time he carved a 4 meter high image of Nyoirin Kannon from a single piece of camellia tree. The Hondō (main temple) was built to enshrine this image which became the focus of the Nachi Kannon cult and is the image that is enshrined in the present Nyorindō.

In 988 Emperor Kazan (花山天皇) (968-1008) visited the Kumano area on his first pilgrimage and, being deeply moved by the image of Kannon, he declared this Temple One of the Saigoku Kannon pilgrimage. It is said that Emperor Kazan completed 1000 days of severe spiritual training under the waterfall, after which he had a vision of Kannon in the form of the kami Kumano Gongen. The kami instructed the emperor to find the priest Butsugan of Hasedera (Temple 8 of the pilgrimage), who helped the emperor to remap out the current pilgrimage route.

Emperor Kazan wrote all the goeika poems that are still used throughout the pilgrimage as sacred hymns. It became a custom in later years for other emperors who went on this pilgrimage to also compose poems of their own for each of the sacred sites.

Because Emperor Gotoba (1180-1239; r. 1183-1198) made the pilgrimage to Kumano 31 times and his successor Emperor Go-Shirakawa (1127 – 1192; reigned 1155 – 1158) made it 34 times, the pilgrimage became popular during this era. However, members of court had been coming here for about 400 years prior to this, believing it was near to Kannon’s paradise island located to the south of Japan called Fudaraku (Potala in Sanskrit).

The temple buildings, like many of the temples on the pilgrimage route, were burned to the ground by Oda Nobunaga during the civil wars of the 16th century. The Nyorindō (Main Temple) was rebuilt in 1587 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the Imperial Regent who unified Japan after the wars. It is typical of Momoyama Era style of architecture with a shingled distinctive roof called irimoya. The Nyorindō is heritage listed as a nationally Important Cultural Property.

When the government reinstated the power of the Emperor during the Meiji era (1868 - 1912), an attempt was made to separate Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines that had for over a thousand years shared the same grounds. Because of this, Seigantoji was formally abolished, the priests stripped of their authority and no funding was given to the temple. At that time Seigantoji had three main temples as well as 37 residential and training building. But all that remained after the Meiji Restoration was the Nyorindō and the abbot’s quarters. However, gradually over the following century it was slowly rebuilt due to its position as an important part of the Kumano-Nachi syncretic mountain veneration religion of Shugendō.

In 1918, a Sutra mound was excavated at the base of the waterfall and found to contain many important archaeological artifacts, including statues, mirrors, altar fittings and Sutra cylinders. These are now displayed in the Ryuhoden (“Treasure Hall”), located next to the Pagoda. These Sutra mounds were created by priests in times of war to hide their treasures but also many items were buried in this way as a result of the belief that the end of the world was coming at the start of the 10th century. [3]

Building and Places of Interest within the temple grounds


See also


  1. For details of the subject of shrine temples, see the article Shinbutsu shūgō.
  2. "Jungūji". Encyclopedia of Shinto. Retrieved 29 September 2010.
  3. Juno, Cate Kodo. "History of Seigantoji". Sacred Japan. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  4. Juno, Cate Kodo. "Places of Interest at Seigantoji". Sacred Japan. Retrieved October 9, 2014.

Related Research Articles

Nachikatsuura Town in Kansai, Japan

Nachikatsuura is a town located in Higashimuro District, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan.

Shinto shrine Japanese shrine of the Shinto religion

A Shinto shrine is a structure whose main purpose is to house ("enshrine") one or more kami. Its most important building is used for the safekeeping of sacred objects and not for worship. Although only one word ("shrine") is used in English, in Japanese, Shinto shrines may carry any one of many different, non-equivalent names like gongen, -gū, jinja, jingū, mori, myōjin, -sha, taisha, ubusuna or yashiro.


Itsukushima (厳島) is an island in the western part of the Inland Sea of Japan, located in the northwest of Hiroshima Bay. It is popularly known as Miyajima (宮島), which in Japanese means "Shrine Island". The island is one of Hayashi Gahō's Three Views of Japan specified in 1643. Itsukushima is part of the city of Hatsukaichi in Hiroshima Prefecture. The island was part of the former town of Miyajima before the 2005 merger with Hatsukaichi.

<i>Shinbutsu-shūgō</i> Japanese syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism

Shinbutsu-shūgō, also called Shinbutsu-konkō, is the syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism that was Japan's only organized religion up until the Meiji period. Beginning in 1868, the new Meiji government approved a series of laws that separated Japanese native kami worship, on one side, from Buddhism which had assimilated it, on the other.

Shinbutsu bunri The separation of Shinto from Buddhism

The Japanese term shinbutsu bunri (神仏分離) indicates the separation of Shinto from Buddhism, introduced after the Meiji Restoration which separated Shinto kami from buddhas, and also Buddhist temples from Shinto shrines, which were originally amalgamated. It is a yojijukugo phrase.

Nachi Falls

Nachi Falls in Nachikatsuura, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan, is one of the best-known waterfalls in Japan. With a drop of 133 meters, it is the country's tallest water fall with single uninterrupted drop; however, the tallest waterfalls with multiple drops in Japan are Hannoki Falls, at 497 m (seasonal), and Shōmyō Falls, at 350m.

Buddhist temples in Japan

Buddhist temples or Buddhist monasteries together with Shinto shrines, are considered to be amongst the most numerous, famous, and important religious buildings in Japan. The shogunates or leaders of Japan have made it a priority to update and rebuild Buddhist temples since the Momoyama period. The Japanese word for a Buddhist temple is tera (寺) and the same kanji also has the pronunciation ji, so that temple names frequently end in -dera or -ji. Another ending, -in (院), is normally used to refer to minor temples. Such famous temples as Kiyomizu-dera, Enryaku-ji and Kōtoku-in are temples which use the described naming pattern.

Kumano shrine

A Kumano shrine is a type of Shinto shrine which enshrines the three Kumano mountains: Hongū, Shingū, and Nachi. There are more than 3,000 Kumano shrines in Japan, and each has received its kami from another Kumano shrine through a process of propagation called bunrei (分霊) or kanjō (勧請).


Daishō-in or Daisyō-in (大聖院) is a historic Japanese temple complex with many temples and statues on Mount Misen, the holy mountain on the island of Itsukushima, off the coast of Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima, Japan. It is the 14th temple in the Chūgoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage and famous for the maple trees and their autumn colors. It is also called "Suishō-ji" (水精寺). Including Mt. Misen, Daishō-in is within the World Heritage Area of Itsukushima Shrine.

Tanzan Shrine

Tanzan Shrine, also known as the Danzan Shrine, the Tōnomine Shrine and the Tōnomine Temple, is a Shinto shrine in Sakurai, Nara Prefecture, Japan.

Kumano Nachi Taisha

Kumano Nachi Taisha (熊野那智大社) is a Shinto shrine and part of the UNESCO-designated World Heritage Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range of Japan. The Kumano Kodō route connects it to other sites under the same classification, which are primarily located in Wakayama Prefecture, Japan. The four sites on the route, classified as pilgrimage destinations and World Heritage Sites, are: 1) Nachi Taisha; 2) Hongū Taisha; 3) Hayatama Taisha; 4) Koya-san.

Kumano Hongū Taisha

Kumano Hongū Taisha (熊野本宮大社) is a Shinto shrine located in Tanabe, Wakayama, deep in the rugged mountains of the Kii Peninsula of Japan. It is included as part of the Kumano Sanzan in the World Heritage site "Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range". The main deity enshrined is Kumano Gongen (熊野権現). All of the ancient Kumano Kodō routes lead to the Grand Shrine.

This is the glossary of Japanese Buddhism, including major terms the casual reader might find useful in understanding articles on the subject. Words followed by an asterisk (*) are illustrated by an image in one of the photo galleries. Within definitions, words set in boldface are defined elsewhere in the glossary.

Toyokawa Inari

Toyokawa Inari (豊川稲荷) is the popular name for a Buddhist temple of the Sōtō sect located in the city of Toyokawa in eastern Aichi Prefecture, Japan. The temple’s true name is 妙厳寺, or full name is Enpukuzan Toyokawa-kaku, Myōgon-ji. Despite the torii gate at the entrance, and the popular identification of its main image of veneration with Inari Okami, the Shinto kami of fertility, rice, agriculture, industry and worldly success, the institution is a Buddhist temple and has no overt association with the Shinto religion.

Akihasan Hongū Akiha Jinja

The Akihasan Hongū Akiha Jinja (秋葉山本宮秋葉神社) is a Shinto shrine in Tenryū-ku, Hamamatsu. The shrine is located near the summit of Mount Akiha, on the southern slopes of the Akaishi Mountains. It is the head shrine of the 800 Akiha shrines around the country.


Hokkesan Ichijō-ji (法華山一乗寺) is a Buddhist temple of the Tendai sect in Kasai, Hyōgo, Japan.

<i>Jingū-ji</i> Traditional Japanese places of worship

Until the Meiji period (1868–1912), the jingū-ji were places of worship composed of a Buddhist temple and a Shintō shrine, both dedicated to a local kami. These complexes were born when a temple was erected next to a shrine to help its kami with its karmic problems. At the time, kami were thought to be also subjected to karma, and therefore in need of a salvation only Buddhism could provide. Having first appeared during the Nara period (710–794), jingū-ji remained common for over a millennium until, with few exceptions, they were destroyed in compliance with the Kami and Buddhas Separation Act of 1868. Seiganto-ji is a Tendai temple part of the Kumano Sanzan Shinto shrine complex, and as such can be considered one of the few shrine-temples still extant.

Kotohiki Hachimangū

Kotohiki Hachimangū (琴弾八幡宮) is a Shinto shrine in Kan'onji, Kagawa Prefecture, Japan. Located within Kotohiki Park, itself part of the Setonaikai National Park, there is an aetiological legend that sees the god Hachiman appearing to the eighth-century monk Nisshō Shōnin while he was playing a koto on board ship. The legend is depicted in the Sanuki-no-kuni Shippōzan Hachiman Kotobikigū engi, records that are an Important Cultural Property of the City. As a result of the enforced separation of Buddhism and Shinto during the Meiji period, the enshrined image of Amida Nyorai was transferred to nearby Kannon-ji. There is a lively annual festival.

Kanpuku-ji (Yamakura, Katori)

Kanpuku-ji (観福寺) is a Buddhist temple of the Shingon Buzan Sect located in Yamakura, Katori, Chiba Prefecture. The temple is one of two temples in Katori with the same name, the other being Makinosan Kanpuku-ji.

Saimyō-ji (Kora)

Saimyō-ji (西明寺), also known as Kotō-sanzan Saimyōji (湖東三山西明寺) or as Ryūōzan Saimyōji (龍應山西明寺) is a Buddhist temple of the Tendai sect in Kōra, Shiga Prefecture, Japan. Founded at the beginning of the ninth century by the 54th Emperor of Japan, the temple is dedicated to Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of healing. The complex includes several National Treasures and a garden designated as Place of Scenic Beauty of Japan.


Coordinates: 33°40′9.15″N135°53′23.31″E / 33.6692083°N 135.8898083°E / 33.6692083; 135.8898083