Tenjoji temple: a place for quiet contemplation
Of all the temples I've visited in Japan this is my favourite. It isn't the largest or the most significant by whatever index is in use, but it is a place I feel completely at peace.
Located near the summit of Mayasan, the tallest peak in the eastern Rokko mountains, it seems to have been largely forgotten by the tourists and hikers. Few people seem to visit, and those who do linger.
The temple dates back to the late 600s. Originally located further down the mountain, it was burnt to the ground in the late 70s and moved to its current location. This relative newness is perhaps what gives it such a calm aura as the site is carefully laid out to encourage contemplation, and features many contemporary takes on traditional Buddhist motifs.
Unusually, the temple is dedicated to the Buddha's mother, Maya Bunin. It's said this is where the haraobi originated, a prayer belt worn by pregnant women to encourage an easy birth. You'll also find offerings to unborn foetuses who died before they were born in the form of small, brightly coloured windmills.
If you do come to Kobe, Maya is worth visiting. As well as the temple, there are stunning views out across Osaka Bay from the top of the mountain, and a few hidden treasures tucked away too.
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