Murôji monastery, (near) Uda, Nara Prefecture, JP

Raw data

Before ascending the throne, Emperor Kanmu (737–806) brought attention to this location in the hills to the southeast of Heijô-kyô (Nara City) when he fell ill, and prayers for his health were conducted at Murô Ryûketsu Shrine (the site of a volcanic vent). Kenkyô, a prominent monk of Kôfukuji, is said to have taken on the construction project. The temple complex expanded further under his famous disciples Kûkai, Saichô, and Yuen. Although a Kôfukuji subtemple, Murôji also became a Shingon training center under Kûkai’s influence.

In 1698, the mother of the 5th Tokugawa Shogun Yoshimune funded the restoration of the temple, her efforts resulting in its independence from Kôfukuji as an exclusively Shingon institution. The alternative name Nyonin kôya was adopted, referring to the fact that female pilgrims were allowed inside.

Today, the monastery is known for a number of national treasures, including the 5-story pagoda, considered an outstanding example of Heian architecture, despite its unusually small size. The main hall has the Taishakuten (Sakro Devendrah) mandala and 17 wooden sculptures from the Heian period (794–1185), including the main object of worship, a statue of Nyoirin Kannon (Cintamanicakra).

-Mediaunion (2003: 151)
-Uryû (2003: 211–2).

Murôji may have been founded by Shûen, a former friend of Saichô’s, who in fact died there in 835. Shûen was a “progressive” Hossô monk, willing to explore the new Buddhist movements, Tendai and Shingon. Another of Murôji’s abbots was Enshu, who took refuge there after being expelled from Hieizan (Enryakuji) during a succession dispute with Enchô over Hieizan’s leadership.

- Groner (2000: 66, 290)

Input by: Lizbeth H. Piel, Aug 18, 2010

Final data (and their sources)

Last updated: 27 Jan 2014

Lat/Long coordinates' accuracy:
The monastery in question is assumed to be situated actually no farther than 200 m from the point defined by the coordinates below.

Location of Muroji monastery, JP.

General location of the Muroji monastery, JP.
Lat 34.53718 Long 136.04113
Mapping & images: Falling Rain Genomics (, 2010.

Google Map link:,%20JP)&ll=34.53718,136.04113&spn=05.0,05.0&t=k&hl=en

Final data - explanatory notes

1. Monastery's name

  • Murôji 室生寺. Alternative English spelling: Murô-ji, Muroji.

2. Monastery's modern country & province

  • Japan: Nara Prefecture

3. Monastery's alternative/historical names

4. Monastery's lat/long coordinates

  • Approx., Lat 34.53718 Long 136.04113 - based on the visual identification the Muroji monastery in maps,, tmciolek, 19 Aug 2010.

5. Other known nearby Buddhist monasteries

  • [missing data]

6. Modern name of the known nearest city, town, or village

  • Uda-shi, Uda-gun, Murô-ku, Murô

7. The settlement's alternative/historical names

8. The settlement's coordinates

9. Monastery's major Buddhist tradition

  • Mahayana

10. Monastery's Buddhist sub-tradition

  • First Hossô; later Shingon, Murô-ha

11. Date-early

  • Early Heian period, late 8th or early 9th century – Mediaunion (2007: 151)

MBM chrono-tag 0767-99p 0800-32p - tmciolek 27 Jan 2014
0767-99p 0800-32p 0833-66c 0867-99c 0900-32c 0933-66c 0967-99c 1000-32c 1033-66c 1067-99c 1100-32c 1133-66c 1167-99c 1200=> dated-el

12. Date-intermediate

13. Date-late

  • 1698 - Mediaunion (2003: 151)

MBM chrono-tag 1200=> - tmciolek 27 Jan 2014

14. Details of contacts with other monasteries

  • A branch temple of Kôfukuji - Mediaunion (2003: 151), Uryû (2003: 211–2).

15. Type of evidence regarding the monastery

  • Architecture, documents

16. Additional notes

  • [missing data] (incl. details of the size of the monastic population)

17. Corrections & addenda to this page were kindly provided by

  • [missing data]

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