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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


Ho-o-do (Ho-o Hall)
Ho-o-do (Ho-o Hall)
Treasure house
Treasure house
Inside of the treasure house
Inside of the treasure house
Bonsho (Temple Bell)
Bonsho (Temple Bell)
Byodo-in Temple is located in Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture. Formerly connected to the Fujiwara family, from the 17th century it belonged to both the Jodo and Tendai sects of Buddhism yet today finds itself independent of any of the specific sects of the religion.
The site for Byodo-in Temple was once used as the cottage of Minamotono Toru; the person believed to have been the real life individual Hikaru Genji, the hero of "The Genji Story" was based on. Minamotono's land was given to the Emperor Uda a millennium ago and afterwards to his own grandson, Minamotono Shigenobu. In 998AD it was renamed as "Uji-dono," the cottage of the lord Fujiwarano Michinaga and in 1052 following the death of Michinaga his son, the lord Fujiwarano Yorimichi, opted to use Uji-dono as a temple.
In the Heian period, based on the pessimism found throughout the last 'stage' of the Buddhist time cycle, Japanese people believed the world would be destroyed on the 2000th anniversary of the death of Buddha. The year of 1052, when Byodo-in Temple was constructed, was thus regarded as the first year of the last stage of Buddhism. Many other temples were constructed in the Heian period and among them the Byodo-in is noteworthy as it retains its images of Buddha, wall paintings and a traditional garden in addition to its buildings.
Ho-o-do (Ho-o Hall)
Constructed in 1053 and facing east, the Ho-o-do stands on the island in the Jodo-style garden's pond. The Chudo (central hall) which contains the temple's main image of Amidanyoraizo has a Yokuro (wing form hallway) standing on both sides of the Chudo and a Biro (tail form hallway) standing behind it. All are designated as national treasures under the title of "Byodo-in Ho-o-do." The reason the Ho-o-do points east is because under Buddhist doctrine paradise is believed to exist in the west and this building was supposed to be worshiped from across the pond; located in the east. Statues of a pair of Ho-o birds which were once attached to the roof of the Chudo are modern day replicas as the originals, national treasures, have been removed and preserved in the treasure house.
The majority of the interior of the temple is extremely old and worn but keeps its original decorations to represent the views and atmosphere of which the Heian era Japanese believed to be paradise.
Kan-non do (Kan-non Hall)
The main image in this hall is the eleven faced Kan-non-ritsuzo.
Amidanyoraizazo is the main image of Ho-o-do and is said to be the only remaining work in existence of the famous sculptor of Buddhist images, Teicho. During the Heian period Teicho's works were popular among the aristocracy; however, over time all have been lost bar this lone work of art.
51 Unchu-kuyo-bosatsu-zo
The relief of 51 Bosatsu (Bodhisattvas) was once used as a decoration for the wall inside the Ho-o-do. Representing the Bodhisattvas who fly on clouds and play musical instruments such as the koto, the flute, the Japanese lute and the drum, it is believed to have been produced in 1053 but many reproductions did appear in later centuries.
A Bronze of a Pair of Ho-o Birds
While they used to be attached to the roof of Ho-o-do, these 2.3m birds are today preserved in the treasure house of the temple.
Bonsho (Temple Bell)
Said to have been forged in the 11th century, the temple bell is decorated with images of an angel, a lion, and an arabesque design and is designated as one of the three greatest bells in Japan. (The other two are the bells of Jingo-ji Temple and Onjo-ji (Mi-i dera) Temple.)
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