An awe-inspring temple in the holy area of Kumano, Seiganto-ji is widely known as the first temple of the thirty-three places of pilgrimage in the western part of Japan which are sacred to Kannon, or the Goddess of Mercy.
According to a legend, in the reign of Emperor Nintoku(the 4th century) a holy priest named Ragyo came from India and when he was practising asceticism under the Great Falls of Nachi, he found a small image of Kannon at the basin of the waterfall.
Building a thatched cottage near the waterfall, he enshrined the image of Kannon in it. This is the origin of Seiganto-ji. Then in the reign of Empress Suiko (the 6th century), a holy priest named Shobutsu carved a large image of Kannon which was about 4 meters in height and set in its chest the small image of Kannon found by Ragyo, and a proper sanctuary was constructed to enshrine the large image.
In 988, the retired Emperor, Kazan, who visited this temple, was deeply moved by it and designated it as the first place of the thirty-three places of pilgrimage sacred to Kannon.