The Byodoin Temple in Kyoto is a Buddhist temple with an amazing history dating back to the Heian period. This temple is a designated World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is a beautiful piece of Japanese history definitely well worth the visit. This temple is on the 10 yen coin. In 1968, a half size replica was built in Hawaii in the Valley of the Temples.
This temple was a joint endeavor between the Judo-shu (Pure Land) and the Tendai-shu sects of Buddhism. The official construction date was 998 and it was originally designed as a villa for a high-ranking official, Minamoto no Shigenobu. The property was later converted to a Buddhist temple in 1052.
Among the buildings on the temple grounds, the most famous is Phoenix Hall or otherwise known as the Amida Hall. This was constructed in 1053 and is the only original building left. The other buildings on the temple grounds were burned down during a civil war in the 14th century. This makes the Phoenix Hall one the last surviving structures from the Heian Period.
When you enter the temple compound and face Phoenix Hall, you will see the central hall and on either side of the corridor. In the back, there is also a third or tail corridor as well. There is a large pond surrounding the temple. The central hall is the home of Amida Buddha and if you look closely at the roof, you will notice statues of the Chinese Phoenix or Hoo in Japanese.
When you get inside Phoenix Hall, you see a statue of Amida on a high platform. The sculpture is made from Japanese cypress and it is adorned in gold leaf. The statue is in a sitting position and it is about three meters tall. You will also notice the paintings on the doors, they represent religious stories and Kyoto’s scenery. The pond is in the from next to the garden and both are recognized as a designated historic site and a place of scenic beauty. The museum houses Byodoin Temple’s national treasures such as wooden Bodhisattva, the temple bell, and other historically significant pieces.
This temple has it all, international recognition, beautiful scenery, a rich history, and a wooden building nearly 1000 years old. There are many places to visit while you visit Kyoto, but this is definitely one that you shouldn’t pass up.
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Address: 116 Renge, Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture
Access: 13 minute walk from Uji Station
Hours: 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM
600 yen (Adults)
400 yen (Children)
Website: Byodoin Temple