Ryo-un-Ji is a Zen-Buddhist temple of the Rinzai Sect Myoshin-Ji Temple School that was founded by Crown Prince Yasuhito Kideranomiya during the formative years of The Muromachi Period (early 14th century).
Prince Yasuhito had been destined to become Emperor of Japan; however as the result of growing conflicts with the existing Emperor, Go-daigo and imperial family power struggles, Prince Yasuhito was forced to abdicate his title of ‘Crown Prince’ and flee to Totoumi Province, where he established his villa and estate.
Ryo-un-Ji was originally built, as a place of worship, on the huge estate, containing residences, formal gardens and a cemetery.
Prince Yasuhito carried the magnificent Amida Nyorai (celestial Buddha) statue from Kyoto to house it at Ryo-un-Ji. The statue had been handed down through generations of The Royal Family and became a significant object of worship for the region.
At the time of establishment of Ryo-un-Ji, Myoha Shunoku was appointed as the chief priest. Shunoku had, as was common at this time, a strong relationship with a very powerful, local samurai clan, the Takeda family.
The Royal Family continued to live on the estate for the next two hundred years until, due to Shunoku and Ryo-un-Ji’s historical bond, they allied with the Takeda family during the ‘The Warring States Period’ to fight against Tokugawa Ieyasu, the eventual founder and first Shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate of Japan.
At the Battle of Mikatagahara, despite the Takeda family’s victory and retreat of Tokugawa, Ryo-un-Ji was attacked and the whole mountainside and estate was razed. Fortunately, the Amida Nyorai statue was saved, the only damage being some fingers being broken. The statue and original damage can still be viewed too this day at Ryo-un-Ji.