Mount Kurama is located some 570 m. above sea level and about a half-hour’s ride by train or car from the city of Kyoto, north of the Kyoto Imperial Palace. The Kurama Temple was established in 770 to guard the northern portions of the capital city of Heiankyo. The Temple is situated halfway up Mount Kurama.
The original Temple buildings were destroyed on several occasions by fire and the Temple’s Main Hall became reconstructed as recently as 1971. In earlier days, the Kurama Temple was belonging to the Buddhism Tendai Sect of Buddhism. Since 1949, however, the Kurama-Kokyo Sect is headquartered in the Temple.
The legend has it that over 6 million years ago, the king of conquerors of the evil and spirit of the Earth, Mao-son, descended upon Mount Kurama all the way from Venus with the mission of salvation of all of mankind. Ever since those days, the powerful spirit of Mao-son governed the evolution and development of mankind and all living organisms Earth from Mount Kurama. Additionally, a priest by the name of Gantei had received his spiritual transmission.
In the 1st year of Hold (770 AD), Gantei, the best scholar of High Priest Ganjin (who founded the Toshodaiji Temple in the area of Nara) was reportedly climbing up this holy site led by a beautiful white horse. Then, Gantei’s soul became enlightened by the Bishamon-ten’s realization. (Bishamon-ten is the protector of the spirit of the sun and the great northern part of Buddhist heaven). He followed in these footsteps and established the Buddhist temple on Mount Kurama.
Later on (in year 15 of Enryaku – 796 AD), the government official who was in charge of constructing the Toji Temple, envisioned Senju-kannon, the 1000-armed Kannon that was also the spirit of the moon, and he started to build pagodas and temples on Mount Kurama.
Senju-kannon, Mao-son, and Bishamon-ten form a Trinity that’s known as the “Supreme deity” or “Sonten”, the symbols of our universal soul. “Sonten” stands for the “Living Soul in the universe”, the “Activity of the Soul, and the “Glorious Light”.
These three symbols (Bishamon-ten, Senju-kannon, and Mao-son) stand for love, power, and light. “Sonten” is worshipped as the composite or combination of all three symbols.
“Sonten” is trusted for all sorts of things, it is Universe’s creator, the cultivator of the development of a thing, all across the earth. “Sonten” rests deep within our individual minds and it causes the “Atman”, or the “Great Self” to wake up our hearts. It gives us glorious light and new power.
In 1000 AD, Seishonagon, an outstanding Japanese female essayist, published a fine essay on Kurama. She wrote, “The path to Kurama is actually a winding road; at one glance, it seems quite near, though it is so far.” Today, however, the cable car will take you to the upper terminal in just three minutes and from there, it’s lust 10-minute walk to reach the Temple’s main hall.
Up there, you’ll find a serene and clear sky and the air you breathe is pure. Mount Kurama is a wonderful place to visit all through the year. Particularly in the days of Kamakura and Heian and Kamakura, the Buddhist arts and related literature flourished on Mount Kurama which is also world-renown as an important historical site. Take a look, for example, at the interesting story of a warrior named Ushiwaka-mani (1159-1189) who was later referred to as Minamoto Yoshitsune. As a young student, he studied Military Arts at Kurama under “Tengusan”, the subjugator of all evil, and later became an outstanding soldier. On Mount Kurama, you still can find several historical sites that are connected to him.
“Sonten” determines our lives through virtue. “Sonten” bestows his power upon us so we’re able to live lives in a good way. “Sonten” casts all evil things from our minds through the strength of his eternal power so we can perfect ourselves.