A temple built for salvation of the masses
This was Japan’s first genuine Buddhist temple, built in 593, by Prince Shotoku to honor four heavenly kings. The central gate, the five-storied pagoda, the Kon-do main hall and the Kodo lecture hall are arranged in a line facing from south to north, all surrounded by a corridor, a precious architectural form seen in China and the Korean peninsula from the 6th to 7th centuries as the prevalent style in Asia brought to these times. As the site to put the fundamental principles of Buddhism into practice, four institutions were established: the Kyoden-in to practice Buddhism, the Seiyaku-in to dispense medicine, the Ryobyo-in to treat the sick, and the Hiden-in to accommodate the elderly and those with no family, facilities that were similar to current social welfare institutions. Many of the buildings within the temple were burned down due to war and other disasters, and the current buildings were rebuilt in 1963. There are many highlights such as the Taishi-den where Prince Shotoku is enshrined, the Gokuraku-jodo-no-niwa Japanese garden, the five-storey pagoda which is open to the public and the Ishii-no-torii stone gate which is an unusual structure for a shrine. Shitenno-ji is within walking distance from Japan’s tallest skyscraper, Abeno Harukas. Being able to view both the ancient construction of the temple together with the modern architecture of Harukas makes it a popular sightseeing spot.
The life of Prince Shotoku shown in pictures, displayed once a month
When it came to Prince Shotoku’s role in Imperial politics from the age of 20, it is said that since his childhood, the prince was so wise that he was able to discern talk from 10 people at one time. Influential families of the time controlled people and land in their struggle for power, but the prince aimed to stop the battles and create a nation centering on the Emperor. He began a system for people, regardless of family status, to gain important jobs based on ability, drafted a constitution to show the preparedness of government officials, and initiated an exchange with China. Every month on the 22nd, the life and legend of Prince Shotoku is open to the public at E-do Hall through pictures. And on the 21st and 22nd, street stalls come out to sell items such as antiques, clothing and food.