According to tradition, Kechienji Temple was founded by the famous priest Gyoki in theearly 8th century. The temple soon grew into a thriving monastery with 6 lodging housesfor visiting pilgrims, but in 1560 the whole complex was burned down in a local battle. Thecurrent temple was rebuilt in 2007. Kecheniji belongs to the Shingon sect, andvenerates Dainichi Nyorai and his popularspiritual assistant the wisdom king Fudo Myo-o.The temple’s bronze statue of Fudo, cast in 1303, is registered as a national importantcultural property. The statue can be viewed when the inner temple opens to the publicevery year on Sept 24th. On top of the high ground across from the temple sits theKumano Shrine, which houses the local guardian kami of the Kechienji community. Theshrine is surrounded by a small but dense sacred grove filled with huge native broad-leaved evergreen trees. Ural owls nest in holes in the tree trunks. Just below the shrine isa traditional tame-ike irrigation pond. A small shrine dedicated to the Suijin WaterGoddess Benzaiten stands on an island reached by crossing a narrow bridge. There arealso lotus and water lily ponds in front of the temple gate. Kechienji is situated at theheadwaters of a long, narrow valley, where water seeps out of the heavily forestedsurrounding slopes. Endangered Japanese brown frogs breed in the ponds, and bright redmeadowhawk dragonflies fill the late autumn skies. Kingfishers and herons come regularlyto hunt the frogs and insects.