Natadera was founded in 714 by the esteemed monk Taicho who also founded the nearby town of Awazu Onsen. It is known for associations with nature and rebirth thanks to its connections to Mt. Hakusan and is a highlight of the region thanks to the unusual rock caves and carvings.
There is a three-story pagoda, separate shrine and bell tower, with many small sites set away from the main path, making each find feel like a unique discovery. The carved steps can no longer be climbed bu they can be viewed from the pond-side and the main temple features hand-carved entrances and steps as well as traditional buildings.
The temple is associated with rebirth and spiritual purity thanks to its close connection with Mt. Hakusan – one of Japan’s three most important mountains. Spirits are believed to return to the mountain to be purified and reborn.
The temple’s caves are considered to be the wombs of the life and death cycle, offering a chance at rebirth to those who pass through them. A particularly popular temple during the Jomon period when reincarnation was a strong focus of religion, the caves drew many followers and fored an integral part of the umarekiyomaru (life and death cycle) experience.