World Heritage / Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto

Criteria: (ii) (iv) | Date of Inscription: 1994 | Location: Kyoto and Shiga Prefectures | Justification for Inscription


Things to see

Kyo-o-gokaku-ji (To-ji)

To-ji Temple
To-ji Temple
Goju-no-to (Five-storied Pagoda)
Goju-no-to (Five-storied Pagoda)
Inside of the Goju-no-to
Inside of the Goju-no-to
In 796AD when a new capital was established in Kyoto, two temples were built, one on the east and the other on the west side of the Rajomon Main Gate. One of them, the temple on the east side, is nowadays called "To-ji Temple" (Eastern temple) but its official name is Kyo-o-gokoku-ji Temple, indicating the esoteric Buddhism Temple protects the Japanese nation by way of the religion.
In 823AD the Emperor Saga gave this temple to the priest Kukai, founder of the Shingon sect of Buddhism and afterwards To-ji Temple developed as a Shingon sect temple. Following the middle ages it became popular because belief in the priest Kukai spread widely among the nation's commoners but the original buildings no longer exist due to the fires. That said, the layout of the South Gate, Main Hall, Lecture Hall and Dining Hall remain identical to the way they stood in the Heian period.
Kondo (Main Hall)
The current building was reconstructed by Toyotomi Hideyori in 1603 and contains images of Yakushisannonzo. The central Buddhist image is a giant 2.9m statue.
Kodo (Lecture Hall)
The Kodo was reconstructed in 1491 and is today home to 21 esoteric statues of Buddha. These statues are said to be the oldest surviving works in Japan produced under the technique of esoteric Buddhist statue production and 15 of them are designated as national treasures.
Goju-no-to (Five-storied Pagoda)
The Goju-no-to of the To-ji Temple is known as the symbol of Kyoto. Erected first in the late 9th century after the priest Kukai died, it is 54.8m high making it the highest wooden tower in Japan. The current tower was reconstructed by Tokugawa Iemitsu in 1644.
Miedo (Mie Hall)
The Miedo is a residence-style building constructed in the 14th century and officially named "Daishido," but widely referred to as "Miedo." Having been destroyed in a fire in 1379, the current building is a later reconstruction.
One part of this hall is called the "Saiin" (west section) and it is said to have been the residence of the priest Kukai. The southern part of the hall contains a Fudomyo-o-zazo said to have belonged to Kukai and is believed to be Japan's oldest Fudomyo-o-zazo statue. As it is designated as a treasured Buddhist statue it is not on exhibition.
The northern part of the hall contains a national treasure in the shape of Kobodaishi-zazo. (Kobo Daishi is another name for Kukai) This statue was produced by Kosho, the son of Unkei in 1233 and in front of this statue, the ceremony of "Shojinku" offering breakfast to Kukai is held at six o'clock every morning attracting many worshipers.

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