A symbol of the Japanese spirit and
culture for more than 1200 years,
Saijo Inari Temple continues to attract people
from all over the country even today.
Known as the setting for Japan’s most famous folk tale, “The Legend of Momotaro,” Kibi Plain features a number of burial mounds created more than 1500 years earlier. Saijo Inari and its enormous O-torii(the gate at the temple's entrance) standing 27 meters tall, situated on the mountainside overlooking the plain, offers one of the most eye-catching scenes found in this lush countryside.
The official name of the temple is “Saijo Inari-san Myokyo-ji.” Because torii are symbols of shrines, the torii at Saijo Inari makes this temple a rare example of the religions of ancient Japan. Every year about 3 million people visit this temple, where “Saijoi Kyo-o Daibosatsu,” believed responsible for prosperity in business and good harvests, is worshipped.
Saijo Inari, boasting a history stretching back more than 1200 years, is an Inari temple devoted to protecting the Lotus Sutra and the teachings of Buddhism.
It is known as one of three major Inari in Japan along with Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine and Toyokawa Inari Temple.
Legend has it that the well-trained priest Ho-on Daishi had a vision of Saijoi Kyo-o Daibosatsu (known affectionately as “Saijo Sama”), the principal image, and became enlightened in 752 while worshipping at the stone outcropping known as Hachijoiwa. After this vision, Ho-on Daishi built a temple near the site in 785 and named it "Ryuozan Jinguji." After flourishing for hundreds of years as a venerable temple, the buildings were unfortunately lost due to damage sustained during the civil war in the late 16th century.
However, the temple was rebuilt in 1601 by the priest Nichien Shonin, who was visiting from the Kanto region (near modern-day Tokyo), and the temple was renamed “Saijo Inari-san Myokyoji.” Since then, the temple has been revered by many people as “Saijo Sama, bringer of mysterious divine favor.”
Within the temple grounds stand the former main hall, Kyu-Honden, and the historic wooden building known as Konpon-daido(memorial service hall). In addition, during hatsumode (the new year's first temple visit to pray for luck), large numbers of people visit the temple to pray for peace and happiness in the coming year.