Byodoin Temple

Heaven on earth – Byodoin Temple, a World Heritage Site

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Byodoin Temple was made in the image of heaven by an aristocrat of the Heian period. It is a valuable building that shows the prosperity of the Fujiwara clan. The temple’s Phoenix Hall is brilliant following the recent completion of its restoration.
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Saturday ( 8:30 AM ~ 5:30 AM )
Sunday ( 8:30 AM ~ 5:30 AM )
Weekdays ( 8:30 AM ~ 5:30 AM )
平等院 Renge-116 Uji Kyoto
(0774) 21-2861

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Aristocrat’s second house turned into a temple

Byodoin temple was established in 1052 when an aristocrat named Yorimichi Fujiwara decided to turn his second house into a temple. The temple building and the Buddha statues created nearly 1,000 years ago have been collectively listed as a World Heritage site. Adding to its glory, the temple’s Phoenix Hall is featured on the Japanese 10 yen coin. The Phoenix Hall recently underwent nearly 2 years of restoration work including a roof replacement and re-coating of its exterior layer; the building has been restored brilliantly to the state it was at the time it was first built, bringing back the splendor of the Heian period (794 – 1185). Though the Phoenix Hall was built as a hall for containing the statue of Amitabha Tathagata, people began to call it the Phoenix Hall because the shape of the entire building resembles a phoenix with wings spread open, and also because the hall’s roof is decorated with a pair of copper phoenix statues. This valuable building attests to the glorious days of prosperity during the Heian period. Built on an island of a pond, the hall’s gorgeous reflection on the pond makes it appear as though it is a palace floating in the treasure pond of heaven. The people of the Heian period regarded the Phoenix Hall as heaven on earth.

Outstanding National Cultural Assets of Byodoin temple

The interior of the Phoenix Hall is filled with splendid National Cultural Assets. Sitting in the center is the statue of Amitabha Tathagata, a work of the best Buddhist image craftsman of the Heian period. Some playing instruments, some dancing, and others praying, at the upper part of the wall are the “52 Worshiping Bodhisattvas on Clouds” also crafted during the Heian period. On the walls are a drawing of heaven and a drawing depicting the 9 different levels that the spirits of the dead are directed to–according to the amount of virtue they have accumulated–by Amitabha Tathagata. The lights reflected by 66 copper bells hanging from the ceiling create an ethereal atmosphere in the hall. In spring, the flowers of 280 years old wisteria trees and azaleas add extra beauty to the temple grounds.

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9 years ago
A quiet temple between Kyoto and Nara
Byodoin is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of very few remaining temples in Japan that feature Heian architecture. The temple features the most beautiful of Japan’s few remaining Pure Land Gardens, and a small museum. Both are included in the entry fee. The museum has won architecture awards, and inside features 52 wooden Bodhisattvas, the temple bell, a Golden Phoenix, and other historically noteworthy items. The temple bell here is also a national treasure. The golden phoenix is and the temple itself are depicted on both a Japanese coin and bank note. I would say this temple is well worth a visit on your way to Nara.
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