Ninna-ji Temple was founded in the 4th year of the Ninna Era (888) by Emperor Uda, the 59th emperor of Japan and the first Japanese emperor to ever retire from the throne to become a monk. The retired emperor became the abbot of the temple, and there continued to be a member of the imperial family serving as the abbot at the temple until 1869.
Ninna-ji has unfortunately been the site of several major fires, to which the original buildings have been lost. The entire temple was ruined in the late 15th century during the Onin War, a 10 year struggle for power that began in the city of Kyoto. Most of the current buildings date from the 17th century reconstruction sponsored by the Tokugawa Shogunate. It was also during this reconstruction that the temple’s famous late-blooming cherry trees were planted.
Ninna-ji Temple is currently the headquarters of the Omuro School of the Shingon Sect of Buddhism. Ninna-ji also serves as the headquarters of the nationally known Omuro School of Flower Arrangement. In 1994 the temple was officially designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is home to national treasures and several buildings certified as Important Cultural Properties by the Japanese government.