The temple complex of Nigatsu-do is located within the Todaiji temple area in Nara. Further up the hill from the main halls of Todaiji, it is often missed by visitors. The main hall of the temple is a UNESCO Heritage Site, located high on the hillside with great views over Nara. Inside are several Buddhist images and statues. The main such statues are two original images of the Kannon, one larger and one smaller. These however are considered “secret” items and are not displayed to the public, despite their central role in the annual Mizutori festival.
The festival honors the locally important Bodhisattva over a two week period; its origins are said to come from an event which was held here for 13,700 Buddhist gods. One of these gods, as an offering due to his late arrival, caused water from the nearby river to spring up at this hillside location. As part of the ceremonies, monks will bring up water-said to have special healing powers- from a nearby cave, which is distributed to the local people. This ceremony usually takes place over the first two weeks in March each year.
The temple at Nigatsu was founded in the year 752 by a local monk, but deteriorated over the years; most of the halls today date to the latest reconstruction in the 17th Century.