Byodo-In Temple

Byodo-in, the only surviving example of Heian temple architecture, was originally Fujiwara Michinaga's villa, a powerful regent and the model for the hero Genji in Tale of Genji. It was converted into an Amidist temple by his son, regent Fujiwara Yorimichi in 1052, the year that Buddhists believed the Latter Day of the Law (mappo) was to begin.

<< The Phoenix Hall of Byodo-in

In the temple's compound, the Amitabha Hall was completed in 1053. Popularly known as the Hoohdo (Phoenix Hall ), it consists of a central hall, wing corridors on both sides and a tail corridor. The central hall houses an image of Amida Buddha (national treasure) carved by the famous artist Jocho. Atop the roof of the hall stand sculptures (national treasures) of mythical phoenix-like birds called hoo and inside the hall are the ornate ceiling, Buddhist images attached high on the inner wall and colorfully painted doors.

With many buildings added later, the compound was much larger than it is today, but most of the additional buildings were burnt down during the civil war in 1336. There is a garden with a pond in front of the Hoohdo. Originally the beach of the pond stretched up to the Uji River and with mountains on the opposite side of the river as a background, this whole area embracing the hall and the garden is said to represent the Buddhist Paradise or Western Pure Land. An image of it is on the Y10 coin. The hall's architectural style significantly influenced the construction of temples in many other regions such as Hiraizumi in northeastern Japan and Kamakura.

<< Bell windows line the tail of the Phoenix

The treasure house in the compound is open to the public every spring and autumn. The Buddhist bell (national treasure) is one of the three finest bells in Japan because of its elegant appearance.

Near the main gate to the temple was a historic spot called "Oogi no shiba" (fan lawn) connected to Minamoto Yorimasa, a poet and warrior who was referred to in one of Japan's most famous prose war tales "The Tale of the Heike."

Standing north of the Hoohdo is an old Japanese wisteria (fuji) said to be two hundred years old. It is in full bloom from late April to early May.

8:30am - 5:00pm (March to November).
9:00am - 4:00pm (December to February).

400 yen.

More ifor at Asian Historical Architecture