Mt. Maya’s Tenjoji, the Temple in the Sky

Date: 16th November 2018

In my current trip to Japan this autumn, I visited a number of places near the Mt. Rokko range, specifically the Nunobiki area, Mt. Maya and the Rokko area. One of my favourite spots on Mt. Maya is Tenjoji (摩耶山天上寺), the temple which was originally built back in 646 by Hodo Sennin at the order of Emperor Kotoku, the 36th Emperor of Japan.

Main Hall

Story has it that Kobo Daishi brought a golden statue of Maya, the mother of Buddha from China, which was how the mountain got its name. Since it enshrines Maya, visitors visit the temple to pray for safe childbirth and general protection for women.


Tragically in 1975, Tenjoji was burned in a fire and thus the temple that stands today is a reconstructed structure built in 1976 which is located in the north of the original site, and nearer to the top of the mountain. Tenjoji is also known as the Temple of Haiku, historically linked to Yosa Buson (or Yosa no Buson), one of the greatest poets from the Edo period.


The dry landscape garden around the temple was very beautiful; along with the high location (around 700m above sea level) made it seemed like a temple in heaven. I was not surprised that the terrace was called Tenku no Daibutai, which translates to Sky’s Grand Stage. On a clear day,  you should be able to see the Seto Inland Sea, Awaji Island, and Akashi Bridge from here.

Dry landscape garden
Dry landscape garden with a view / Tenku no Daibutai
View from the Tenku no Daibutai

I was especially happy with the lack of crowd here, despite the number of tourists I saw back in Kikuseidai. The tranquility felt here was much needed.

Nice autumn colors here
Wakagaeru, translates to “young frog / becoming younger”. Visitors stroke its head hoping to become younger (hmm).


Opening hours: 09:00 – 17:00

Admission: Free

Official Site (Japanese)

Useful links:


Mt. Maya’s Tenjoji is an easy 800m, 14 mins walk away from Kikuseidai, the uppermost viewing platform accessible via the Maya Ropeway. Alternatively, you can catch the Rokko-Maya Sky Shuttle Bus, though there is only 1 bus per hour. It will take only 3 minutes by bus @ 160 yen.

How to get to Kikuseidai: Take the Maya Cable Car & Ropeway from Maya Cable Station (15 mins for both rides + walking between both stations, 880 yen one-way & 1,540 yen round-trip)

How to get to Maya Cable Station. There are few options, take whichever is convenient:

  • From Kobe-Sannomiya Station, take Bus No. 18 bound for JR Rokko-michi to Maya Cable Shita Bus Stop (30 mins, 14 stops @ 210 yen)
  • From Kobe-Sannomiya Subway Station, take Bus No. 2 bound for Hankyu Rokko Bus Terminal to Kanonji Bus Stop (20 mins, 11 stops @ 210 yen). From there, the cable station is a 8-mins 450m walk.
  • It is also possible to walk to the cable station (20 mins, 1.3km) from Oji-koen station on the Hankyu Railway. This station is just 2 stops away from Kobe-Sannomiya Station.


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