The Temple of a Dragon

Gojo City is at the western edge of the middle part of Nara Prefecture. It is also at the southern base of Mt. Kongo. At a mountain village to the north of the city, a dragon used to appear repeatedly. It vandalized millet fields, and took away cattle and chickens.

At the end of a summer, the villagers were happy with the expected good harvest of the year. Since they had suffered from poor harvest for years, they were delighted(1) that they would be able to eat sufficiently at last.

However, a dark cloud suddenly appeared above Mt. Kongo. Somebody shouted, “It’s a dragon’s cloud!” In an instant, there was a flash of golden lightening, and a dragon with a terrifying look appeared and started to swoop down on the village.

Its length was about 10 meters. It had pointed horns, a scaled stout body, and sharp clawson its feet. Its eyes were burning red. There were screams and desperately running villagers.

An ascetic happened to pass by the village at that moment. He prayed with all his might shaking his arms at the sky holding prayer beads in his hands. Eventually, his spiritual power hit and killed the dragon.

The dragon’s body was torn into three pieces, and fell on the ground separately. The villagers built Ryutoji Temple, Ryudoji Temple, and Ryubiji Temple respectively where the head, body, and tail fell, and carefully held memorial services for the dragon. It is said the three temples were combined later, and became Sokokuji Temple in Kitayama-cho.

The mountain range of Kongo that spreads toward south looks like a huge dragon lying down in mysterious silence. Rushing Yoshino River snakes its way through the city.