Ninnaji monastery, (in) Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, JP

Raw data

In 888, Emperor Uda (r. 887–897) pledged Ninnaji, a monastery to the northwest of the Imperial Palace in Kyoto, to commemorate his deceased father Emperor Kôkô. The 81-year-old Shinnen, leader of the Shingon sect at the time, attended the new temple’s initiation ceremony. Two years after retiring from the throne, Emperor Uda entered the monastery in 899, and became its first abbot of royal blood. He resided in an imperial cloister on the temple grounds built by the monk Yakushin (who incidentally gave Ninnaji its name). After Uda, twenty-two abbots of Ninnaji during the Heian period (794-1185) came from the imperial family. Uda’s own disciple Kangû and grandson Kanchô both became abbots of Tôji.

Under superintendent (bettô) Kangen, who was appointed by Uda, the monastery transitioned from purely Shingon esoteric Buddhism to include Tendai practices. In the 12th century, Kakuban, who had taken his vows at Ninnaji, became abbot of both Tôji and Kôyasan, rival Shingon monasteries.

Emperor Go-Shirakawa’s second son, Shukaku, expanded Ninna-ji’s holdings during his tenure as abbot in the late 12th century, acquiring control over nine other temples in the Kyoto area, including Tôji, which in Uda’s time had competed with Kôyasan for leadership of the Shingon sect. Shukaku obtained Tôji’s symbols of leadership: Two mandalas attributed to Kûkai, founder of Shingon, and the thirty scrolls of sutras that Kûkai had copied in China (Sanjûjô sakushi).

-Weinstein (1999: 500-501)
-Adophson, (2000: 46-48, 66)

At the end of the Heian period, a former governor of Chikugo Nakayoshi built a cloister at Ninnaji, mainly to store his hoard of gold and silver, and rare treasures from China, according to the 12th-century Chôshûki journal, which also tells us that a wall was built to separate Nakayoshi from "certain armed monks' dwellings."

-Piggott, ed. (2006: 271)

Today, Ninnaji is a World Heritage Site, known for its cherry trees and 17th-century architecture. The red Chûmon Gate, the Kannon Hall, and the 5-story pagoda are national treasures. Ninna-ji is the main temple for the Omuro school of the Shingon sect.

-“Sekai isan (sekai bunka isan) Ninnaji."

Input by: Lizbeth H. Piel, Jun 01, 2010

Final data (and their sources)

Last updated: 29 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 Ninnaji monastery, JP.

General location of the Ninnaji monastery, JP.
Lat 35.0310 Long 135.7131
Mapping & images: Falling Rain Genomics (, 2010.

Google Map link:,%20JP)&ll=34.9500,135.7131&spn=05.0,05.0&t=k&hl=en

Final data - explanatory notes

1. Monastery's name

  • Ninnaji 仁和寺. Alternative English spelling: Ninna-ji

2. Monastery's modern country & province

  • Japan: Kyoto Prefecture

3. Monastery's alternative/historical names

  • Nishiyama goganji. – Adolphson (2000: 47)

4. Monastery's lat/long coordinates

  • Approx., Lat 35.0310 Long 135.7131 - based on visual identification of the Ninnaji monastery in a satellite image, in - tmciolek, 10 Jun 2010.

5. Other known nearby Buddhist monasteries

  • Tôji, Hôjûji, Kiyomizudera, Hosshôji, Nanzenji

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

  • Kyôto-shi (Kyoto City), Ukyo-ku, Ouchi Omuro

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

  • Shingon

11. Date-early

  • Foundation pledged in 888 – Weinstein (1999: 500)

MBM chrono-tag 0867-99c - tmciolek 29 Jan 2014
0867-99c 0900-32c 0933-66c 0967-99c 1000-32c 1033-66c 1067-99c 1100-32c 1133-66c 1167-99c 1200=> dated-ex

12. Date-intermediate

  • In the late 12th century, Ninnaji controlled nine temples in Kyoto, including Tôji – Weinstein (1999: 501)

MBM chrono-tag 1167-99c - tmciolek 29 Jan 2014

13. Date-late

  • [missing data]

14. Details of contacts with other monasteries

  • In the late 12th century, Ninnaji controlled nine temples in Kyoto, including Tôji – Weinstein (1999: 501)

15. Type of evidence regarding the monastery

  • [missing data]

16. Additional notes

  • [missing data]

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

  • [missing data]

18. Known monks and nuns associated with this monastery

19. Available Printed Literature

  • [bibliographical details of the Book/Article 1]
  • [bibliographical details of the Book/Article 2]
  • [bibliographical details of the Book/Article 3]

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