What is Kongobuji Temple?

The Charms of Kongobuji

What is Kongobuji Temple?

Koyasan is a sacred place for Japanese Buddhism, first opened in the Heian Period by Kobo Daishi.
The name “Kongobuji”conveys, “Kongobu-rokaku-issai-yuga-yugi kyo,” or “The Sutra of All Yogas and Yogis of the Pavilion with the Vajra-Top.” Koyasan has, beginning with the main hall at 60m east to west and 70m north to south, guarded by various other buildings, the area and grace of 48.295 square meters.

Story of the Founding of Koyasan

高野尋入事 「高野大師行状図」

It has been said for ages that Koyasan was discovered by Kobo Daishi, far away from the capital.
The story goes that Kobo Daishi finished with 2 year study in China, and upon leaving home from the shore of Mingzhou, praying to find the location to erect a temple, he threw a sanko (ceremonial tool) that he was holding.

Kobo Daishi, seeking the sanko, met a single bizarrely shaped huntsman while entering Uchigun of current day Yamato.

Holding a bow and arrow in his hand, he was leading two dogs, one black and one white. Kobo Daishi was lead by the two dogs, and crossing the Kinokawa River and entering the steep mountains, he encountered a woman saying, “I am the god of this mountain. I shall cooperate with you.” As they proceed to where the mountains were not steep, there was suddenly a quiet land.

Thus, stuck in a pine tree there, they found the sanko which had been thrown from the shore in China, and since this mountain would be an appropriate place for Esoteric Buddhist teachings, Kobo Daishi decided to open his temple here.

What is the Issan Temple Grounds?

What is the Issan Temple Grounds?

In the case of the main temple Kongobuji, this does not only refer to Kongobuji Temple, but the entirety of Koyasan.
Usually, a single structure comes to mind when one mentions a temple, and these grounds can be referred to as the temple, but Koyasan takes the name “Issan Temple Grounds,” as temple grounds cover Koyasan, and the entirety of Koyasan is a temple.

Well, you may be wondering where the main temple is. The main temple of Koyasan is the towering temple, “Kondo” the main temple of Issan. Nearly all major events at Koyasan are held at Kondo.
The temples dotting the grounds are called the “Tatchuu jiin” or “subtemples.” Adoring the virtue of Daishi, the entirety of Koyasan has been made the Daiji Main Kongobuji Temple, and was built as a small temple in the mountains. Currently, 117 temples exist, of which 52 are used as quarters, and offer lodging to all visitors to the temple.

Kobo Daishi

Posthumous name based on the life of Kukai, given by the Emperor Daigo in the year 921.

Shizen Daitoku

Born in Enryaku 23 (804 AD). After the death of Kobo Daishi (Jowa 2, March 21 835), at the age of 30, he succeeded at the testament of Kobo Daishi for over 50 years, completed the Yugito Pagoda, various temples such as the Mirokudo, Shingondo, Junteido, and the Bell Tower, as well as the Konbondaito and Saito Pagodas that Kobo Daishi wished for.


A tool for Esoteric Buddhists, it is also called a Sankosho.
It is an item likened to that of a weapon in Indian legends, representing the Buddhists teachings of ridding oneself of desire and the mind seeking enlightenment.

From the head priest


Chief abbot’s history

413th generation head priest of Sohonzan Kongobuji

Chief abbot of Shingon Sect on Mount Koya High priest
Keihou Nakanishi

  • Birth
    Born September 3, 1935
  • Entering the Priesthood
    July 16, 1948: after entering priesthood at Tentokuin and training under Bokusho Kanayama, practices tonsure on this day
  • Formal Certification
    July 26, 1948: formal announcement of entry into priesthood
  • Academic Career
    March 15, 1956: graduates Koyasan University
  • Rank
    December 1, 2003: appointed to high priest
  • Career as Chief Priest
    July 13, 1965: appointed as chief priest of Shakamon’in, Koyasan (current)
    April 1, 2007: appointed as chief priest of Hojuin, Koyasan (current)
Positions held Inauguration Retirement
Koyasan University Comptroller April 1, 1970 March 31, 1985
Research panel member, Ho’e group, Go-onki Daiho’e secretariat July 15, 1980 March 31, 1985
Missionary research group member April 1, 1991  
Kongobuji lead monk and executive officer
Services and flower arrangement head
July 5, 1991 July 4, 1994
Garan administrator July 31, 1992 August 31, 1992
Kongobuji lead monk and executive officer
Honzan sect services head
July 5, 2000 July 31, 2003
Dean of Koyasan University April 1, 2007 Present
Goshichi-nichi-mishiho Serves in 1991, 1997, 2001