Kurama Temple

General Information

Mt. Kurama (570 Metres above sea level) is 12 kilometres due north of Kyoto Imperial Palace and can be reached in 30 minutes from Kyoto by car or train.

The Kurama Temple, founded in 770 as the guardian of the northern quarter of the capital city (Heiankyo). Is located halfway up the mountain. The original buildings, however, were repeatedly destroyed by fire. The Main Hall was last rebuilt in 1971. The temple formerly belonged to the Tendai sect of Buddhism, but since 1949, it has been included in the newly founded Kurama-Kokyo sect as its headquarters.

More than six million years ago, Mao-son (the great king of the conquerors of evil and the spirit of the earth) descended upon Mt. Kurama from Venus, with the great mission of salvation of mankind. Since then, Mao-son's powerful spirit governing the development and the evolution not only of mankind but of all living things on Earth has been emanating from Mt. Kurama, and a priest named Gantei received the spiritual transmission.

In the first year of Hoki (A.D. 770), Gantei, who was the best pupil of High Priest Ganjin, the founder of the Toshodaiji Temple in Nara, led by a white horse, climbed up to this holy place. His soul was enlightened with the realisation of Bishamon-ten (the protector of the northern quarter of the Buddhist heaven and the spirit of the sun). Following, he founded the Buddhist temple on Mt. Kurama.


Later, in the 15th year of Enryaku (A.D. 796). The chief officer in charge of the construction of Toji Temple, saw a vision of Senju-kannon (The thousand armed Kannon and the spirit of the moon) and built temples and pagodas on the mountain.

Mao-son, Bishamon-ten, and Senju-kannon are the symbols of the universal soul, forming a Trinity known as "Sonten" or the "Supreme deity". Sonten is the "Living Soul of the universe", the "Glorious Light", and the "Activity of the Soul".

These three are the symbols of power, light and love. We worship Sonten as the composite of all three.

"We trust in Sonten for all things." Sonten is the creator of the universe, and cultivates the development of everything all over the earth. He rests deep in our individual minds, and causes the "great Self" or "Atman" to wake up within our hearts. He gives us new power and glorious light.

Seishonagon, an eminent female essayist, wrote an essay (A.D. 1000) on Kurama. "The road to Kurama is a winding path; at a glance, the distance appears quite near, but it is quite far." Now, however, if you take the cable car, it takes only three minutes to get to the upper terminal and then only a ten minute walk to the main hall of the temple.

There, the sky is clear and serene, and the air is pure. Mt. Kurama is wonderful throughout the year. During the Heian and Kamakura periods in particular, literature and the Buddhist arts flourished on the mountain. Kurama is also famous as a historical place. There is an interesting story, for instance, of the warrior called Ushiwaka-maru (later known as Minamoto Yoshitsune, 1159-1189). When he was a young lad, he took military arts under the "Tengusan" (subjugator of evil) at Kurama, and he went on to become an excellent soldier. A number of historical sites connected with him still remain on the mountain.


We lead our lives by virtue of Sonten.

Sonten has bestowed his power on us so that we can lead a good life;
casting evil out of our minds with the strength of his power.
We make every effort to perfect ourselves.

We trust in Sonten for all things.

Prayer for Happiness to the Sonten of Kuramayama

The Sonten Triune Diety of Kuramayama: The Spirit if the Moon - Love; The Spirit of the Sun - Light; The spirit of the Earth - Power.

Oh Sonten

Beautiful as the Moon,
Warm as the Sun,
Powerful as the Earth,

Bestow your blessing upon us to uplift mankind and increase our riches and glory.

In this holy place, grant that peace may defeat discord, unselfishness my conquer greed, sincere words may overcome deceit, and that respect may surmount insults.

Fill our hearts with joy, uplift our spirits, and fill our bodies with glory.

Sonten, Great Lord of the Universe, Great Light, Great Mover, bestow upon us who gather to worship you, upon those who strive to touch your heart, a new strength and glorious light.

We trust in Sonten for all things.

We are grateful to Miss Tenko Matsushita for kind translation.

The above information was provided by:

Kurama Temple
Kurama Honmachi,
Telephone: Kyoto (075) 741-2003



Footnote to the information:

There is now concrete evidence that Dr. Usui actually visited Kurama, it is written on the Memorial Stone by his grave, (see translation on Rick Rivard's site).  There is no evidence or records so far emerging that the Sonten Trinity is the basis for the philosophy of Reiki.  A point to bear in mind before jumping to convenient conclusions to explain the ancient philosophy of Reiki.

The temple was Tendai prior to 1949 and therefore, this particular centre was not holding to the Sonten Trinity as its major philosophy at the time Dr. Usui lived.  Dr. Usui was a Shingon Buddhist (converting from Tendai at the age of 27). {This information comes from a paper written by Usui and left to Watanabe and translated in 1994}.  Except for Kannon (Avalokiteshvara), the other deities of the Sonten Trinity do not feature in the Mandalas and philosophy of Shingon or Tendai in a big way. For further background reading I suggest "In Search of the Goddess of Compassion" by John Blofeld; (Mandala Books 1977 ISBN 0-04-440651-7) and "Shingon: Japanese Esoteric Buddhism" by Taiko Yamasaki (1988 ISBN 1-888370-00-9 (or -01-7 paperback); "Tantric Art and Meditation" - Michael Saso (Tendai Education Foundation 1990 - ISBN 0-8248-1363-4); "The Matrix and Diamond World Mandalas in Shingon Buddhism" by Adrian Snodgrass (1988 ISBN 81-85179-27-1).

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Last Updated: January 2000