NINNA-JI is a Shingon Buddhist temple complex located in Kyoto, Japan. Known as the ‘Temple of Heavenly Benevolence’, it was founded in 888 CE by Emperor Uda (r. 887-897 CE). Ninna-ji is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and its Main Hall is recognised as an official National Treasure of Japan. The site is today perhaps most famous for its Buddhist artworks and the large grove of cherry trees which provide a magnificent sight during their annual blossoming.
Emperor Uda reigned in the final quarter of the 9th century CE, and he oversaw the completion of the construction of a Buddhist temple site in the western foothills outside the capital Kyoto (Heiankyo) in 888 CE. The name Ninna-ji derives from ninna (‘Virtue and Harmony’), the posthumous era name of the reign of Uda’s father and predecessor, Emperor Koko (r. 884-887 CE). When Emperor Uda retired from office in 897 CE he promptly took up the position of abbot, the temple’s first. The royal connection to the site continued until 1869 CE with an imperial prince always being appointed as abbot.