This is the head temple of the Zentsuji School of Shingon Buddhism, and was founded in 991 by the priest Ninkai.
It was originally called the Madaraji Temple of Mount Gyuhi (Gyuhi means ‘cow hide’). This name derives from the following story. One night, the priest Ninkai had a dream and found that his dead mother had turned into a cow. He looked after the cow and took care of it but it soon died. He was so heartbroken that he drew the statue of the Mandala of the Two Realms on the skin of the cow and made it the principal object of worship.
Afterwards, the fifth priest Zoshun built the Zuishin-in Temple as a sub-temple of the Mandaraji Temple.
This is also a temple associated with Ono no Komachi, who is renowned as a woman of matchless beauty. Such places as the “mound of Komachi’s letters” where many love letters she received were buried, and the “makeup well” can be found in the premises.
This temple is also known for the beauty of its plum trees, and on the last Sunday of March, the “Hanezu Dance” (Hanezu means the pink colors of plum flowers) is performed, focusing on the tragic legend of the Fukakusano-Shoko who fell in love with Ono no Komachi and continued visiting her residence for one hundred nights.