KYO: Byodoin Temple

Byodoin Temple

In the Obon week holiday, I could visit Byodoin Temple where I had been interested in. It is located in Uji city, a lovely town located between Kyoto and Nara. What makes it wonderful is that I can see the Uji River, which always has plenty of water and makes me feel relaxed. One of the most recommendable sites in this city can be said, Byodoin Temple. In Japanese history, the Heian Period can be said one of the most elegant periods. In that period, the aristocratic culture was flowered. In that period, this temple was constructed by the hottest man of that moment. So, it was fun walking around that temple, thinking of that elegant period.

First, I checked the timing when I could enter the Phoenix Hall. We cannot enter there independently. We have to join a small tour with a Japanese guide. Till the tour started, I first walked around the garden. The garden expresses the Jodo (= a Pure Land), which is like a heaven. I like the way of thinking which is very simple. People needed a nicer world, and needed a heaven in this world. Anyhow, the garden, there was a nice view point (probably for Japanese people) which was familiar for us (Japanese) because the view was printed on the back side of 10 JPY coin. Then, I moved to the museum. I was a bit surprised there was such a modern museum in this temple. When the small tour to the Phoenix Hall started, it was a little uncomfortable since it was like manipulated by another person… But it was worth entering this Hall, and the Amitabha was fur larger than I expected. There is a round window in front of the statue, and if we stand in front of the pond, everybody can see only the face of the Amitabha. When I walked around the garden, I did not notice that I could see her face from that window.

Anyhow, one other nice thing of this temple is its name. “Byodo” means “equality” in Japanese, and it expresses that Buddha is equal to any people. It is a simple philosophy, and great, I think.

Finally, I guess one of the best seasons to visit this temple would be in April to May. I visited there in August, but would definitely visit in May when the flower of wisteria bloom. It must be beautiful, and probably would be a nice season to walk along the Uji river, too.

Byodoin Temple was established by Kampaku (chief advisor to the Emperor) Fujiwara Yorimichi in 1052. Phoenix Hall was constructed in the following year (1053) as the Amidabha Hall (national treasure) to ensure a statue of Amitabha Tathagata (also national treasure). The garden, a Pure Land (Jodo)-Style borrowed landscape garden, has been designated a historic site and a place of scenic beauty. The Suhama (sandy beach), the Hirabashi (flat bridge), the Soribashi (arched bridge), and the Kojima (small island), surround Phoenix Hall. Byodoin houses numerous cultural assets from the Heian Period: Yamato-e style paintings depicting Amida’s nine grades of descent, the Buddhist Temple-Bell, and the pair of Phoenixes-all national treasures. Particularly outstanding are the 52 statues of Worshiping Bodhisattvas on Clouds. These delicately carved national treasures, the only existing group of Buddhist statues from the 11th century, ride on clouds while dancing or playing various musical instruments.

*Some of those treasures can be seen in Hoshokan, the museum. This museum also uses computer graphics to provide virtual exhibitions and is equipped with a reference system that allows convenient access to ultra-high-resolution images of Phoenix Hall.

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When you visit here, I would like to suggest these;
-      To enter the Phoenix Hall
-      To take a picture of the Phoenix Hall as the 10 JPY coin