The principal idol of worship is Monju Bodhisattva, which is widely known as the Mother of Wisdom. Continuing from a long time ago, they say that children that were born and visited the Monju Temple for the first time of the year were given wisdom water to drink and an incantation was performed that would cure the baby of impurities often associated with the causes of children’s colic. Nowadays, people still come to pray periodically throughout the year for a child’s healthy growth, entrance into kindergarten, and passing school entrance exams.
Monjusenji Temple is believed to be founded in 648 by the Father of Shugendo, En no Gyoja, acclaiming Monju Bodhisattva as the temple’s main idol of worship from Godaisan, China. It prospered in the Edo period as a place of worship for Kitsuki’s feudal clan lord Matsudaira Nomi.
There are two Nio statues (Agyo and Ungyo) built before the 600’s that stand at the bottom of the 300+ stairs leading up to the main hall of Monjusenji. The main gate to the temple sits about 3/4 of the way up the stairs and before you enter the main gate, to the right you will see the main hall. As you walk along the path, to the right you will see the largest ancestor prayer pagoda in Japan, which was built by 13,800 people over a period of ten years. On a clear day you can see Yamaguchi and Ehime across the Seto Inland Sea.
At the top of the stairs will you arrive at the Inner Sanctuary Hall where prayers to Monju Bodhisattva take place. The 30cm bronze statue of Monju Bodhisattva kept here is considered to be a treasured Buddhist statue that is only revealed once every 12 years on the year of the rabbit(2011,2023). Behind the hall there is a cave that gushes spring water and that those who drink it are given wisdom. Within the lower hall down the stairs there is a container holding the water that is free for anyone to drink and acquire wisdom.
The forest grounds of Monjusenji Temple are a recognized as a natural monument of Oita Prefecture. There are steep cliffs surrounding the temple, a 1000 year old zelkova tree and cedar trees that date back over 400 years.