Ryūon-ji Temple, better known today as Mama Kannon or Komakiyama Mamakannon, was originally established in 1492 on Mount Komaki. However, during the 16th-century the temple was relocated to where it stands today on the orders of samurai lord Oda Nobunaga. It’s dedicated to the Thousand-Armed Kannon goddess, and those who pray here are said to be blessed with traffic security, matchmaking, and safe childbirth.
These aren’t rare features for a Buddhist temple in Japan, but this temple is said to be the only one devoted to breasts. For this reason, the temple is commonly referred to as the “Breast Temple.” It’s believed that in 1665, a woman who was unable to breastfeed prayed at the temple. After her visit, she was able to lactate and feed her child. Despite its associations with mothers, the name Mama Kannon actually comes from the name of the district the temple is located in.
The temple grounds are filled with sculptures of breasts, from ema prayer plaques—to the ablution pavilions and incense stick stands, everything is designed in the shape of human breasts. It’s a unique sight in this temple.
The whole array of breast-shaped objects may seem confusing at first, but the temple’s intentions are truly sincere and rooted in history. Every day, women, many of them pregnant, come here to pray for safe childbirth, help with lactation, and good health.