Departmental Bulletin Paper 日本仏教の揺藍の地としての南大阪(二)-槙尾川に沿って(I) 国分寺-
Southern Osaka ; The Cradle of Japanese Buddhism II Along the Makio River (1): Kokubunji

梅山, 秀幸

Today, many ancient temples or the ruins of ancient temples can still be found along the Makio River. In the small village of Kokubu, as the name suggests, there once was the grand temple of Kokubunji, which watched over the peace and prosperity of the Izumi region. The villagers of Kokubu have for a long time believed a very strange legend. In the legend, a female deer conceived after licking a drop of urine of a hermit. The deer bore a baby who grew into a beautiful woman, who later was recommended to enter the Imperial Court. Eventually she became Empress. She built kokubunji Temple as a memorial to her mother and the place of her birth. In short, the tradition that's been passed down is that Empress Komyo was indeed the daughter of a deer. This legend sounds so strange and incredible that we might be tempted to laugh it off. But there is a possibility that Empress Komyo was in fact born here in Izumi. Her mother, if not a deer, was of the Tachibana family, and has left her marks all around Izumi. Behind Kumedera Temple is the large tomb of Tachibana no Moroe, one of the most important persons in the history of the Nara period. On the border of Osaka and Wakayama prefectures can be found the tomb of Tachibana no Hayanari, one of the greatest calligraphers, that was destroyed in a great rebellion. Empress Danrin, also called Tachibana no Kachiko, was an ardent advocate of Buddhism and the first to import Zen into Japan. It was also she who renovated Kokubunji Temple during the Heian period. By researching the connections of the Tachibana family to the Izumi region, we hope to clarify the meaning of a legend that, on its surface, seems too unbelivable to be true.

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