It is also called, Juren-san Anraku-ji (住蓮山安楽寺), it was originated by the two of Honen’s(法然上人) disciples, Anraku(安楽上人) and Juren(住蓮上人).
Unfortunatelly, both Anraku and Juren were beheaded. One of the reasons for the beheading had to do with Honen allowing all the people including women to be able to practice buddhism and chant sutras while the practice of the buddhism at that time was only for the privileged, aristocratic class. The monks were given the order to not to let the people of the lower classes practice and chant, but they basically disobeyed the order.
But what enraged the retired Emperor Gotoba (後鳥羽上皇) was the fact that two of the court ladies of Emperor Gotoba, Lady Matsumushi (松虫姫)and Lady Suzumushi (鈴虫姫), had joined and become nuns behind the Emperor’s back after listening to the lecture given by Honen.
Luckly, Honen and some monks were speared of their lives but were exiled. This tragic but rare incident is called the “Ken’ei Persecution” (建永の法難).
After being in th ruin for several centuries, it was restored in memory of the brave and noble monks.
Anraku-ji is only open to the public during the few weeks in May and November. The head priest of this temple was very kind and supportive of William’s works, so we were previleged to be able to visit when no one was around and experienced the peaceful and quiet atmosphere. This was one of the temples William had visited and spent most of his time during his final trip to Japan.