History

In 1052, Byodoin Temple was built by the Regent, Fujiwara no Yorimichi by rebuilding the villa, given by his father, Michinaga. The year 1052 was said to be the beginning of a decadent age when Buddhism was thought to be dying out and pessimism due to decadence infected the minds of aristocrats and monks. Jodoshinko (belief in Jodo), which prays for peaceful death and rebirth in Gokuraku (nirvana), widely spread throughout society. In 1053, the following year, Amidado (Hoo-do (Phoenix Hall)) was completed and in the Hall, the Amida Nyorai (Amitabha Tathagata) Seated Statue at a height of 2.43m, created by Jocho, the greatest sculptor during the Heian Period, was situated and it is said that it was the most extravagant of the time. The building and statutes created about 1,000 years ago have been passed down to this day and are registered as a World Heritage Site.

Cultural Properties of Byodoin Temple

National Treasures Hoo-do (Chudo (Central Hall), Yokuro (Two Wing Corridors), Biro (Tail Corridor)): 4 buildings
Wooden Amida Nyorai Seated Statue: 1 Body
Wooden Unchu Kuyo Bosatsu Statues (Buddhist Saints holding a mass in the clouds): 52 bodies
Wooden Canopy: 1 unit
Guilt Bronze Phoenix statues: 1 pair
Temple Bell: 1 unit
Paintings on Walls and Doors of Hoo-do: 14 sides
Important Cultural Properties Kannon-do (Buddhist Temple): 1 building
Wooden 11 Faces Kannon Standing Statue: 1 body
Jodoin Yorinan Study: 1 building
Historic Site/Beauty Spot Byodoin Garden

Amida Nyorai Seated Statue

Height: 277.2cm
Height up to hairline 242.3cm
Wooden, lacquer foil

Honzon (principal image), Amida Nyorai Seated Statue was created in 1053, in the late Heian Period, by the sculptor Jocho, a representative Japanese Buddhist sculptors. The structural techniques show the complete techniques of yosegi-zukuri, unique to Japan. This is significant as it shows the completion of a unique Japanese style, the so-called “wa” style. A harmonious face with round cheeks. Unexpectedly large eyes, although down casting, reading prayers quietly and a face filled with limitless graciousness. The posture of pulling the breast and with slightly arched back indicates little strain and a very natural position and we do not feel any tension in any way.

Unchu Kuyo Bosatsu Statues (Whole)

Wooden, colored, lacquer foil and cut metallic foil

52 Bosatsu Statues hung on small walls on Nageshi (horizontal timber) in the Central Hall of Hoo-do. These statues were created in Jocho’s studio in 1053. They were arranged surrounding the Amida Nyorai Statue in a U-shape in the north and south. They are divided into 2 in the north and south and a number is assigned to each statue from 1 through 26 in the north and south. Each statue adorned with a halo above the head (ring-shaped halo) assumes various postures flying in the clouds. Five statues are in the biku (monk) figure and others are in the Bosatsu figure. They play various instruments and dance or hold their possessions or pray with clasped hands.

Unchu Kuyo Bosatsu Statues, Dancing Statues

South No. 20

This statue stands, facing the front, on a lotus-shaped pedestal placed on a cloud trailing to the right and dancing.It has a rather stern face, but we feel a sense of beauty from the late Heian Period from this sensuously beautiful dancing figure, swinging the hips.

North No. 9

This statue is a dancing figure standing on a lotus-shaped pedestal placed on a cloud swelling to the right and left. It twists the hips a little to the left and raises the right toe, holding the heavenly cloth by the hands. This is an impressive work showing rhythmical dancing to music.

Unchu Kuyo Bosatsu Statues, Instruments

South No. 4

This statue sits on a lotus-shaped pedestal placed on a cloud trailing to the right, with the face to the left and holds kinsu by the left hand and a plectrum by the right hand. This is a work of natural and beautiful ample figure.

South No. 21

This statue faces the front and sitting on a cloud trailing to the right and playing sho (Shinto flute). The figure is well-toned.

South No. 1

This statue sits kneeling on a lotus-shaped pedestal placed on a cloud trailing to the left and holds clappers in its hands. It has plump cheeks and structured eyes and nose and lips with a crest, which retains an old-fashioned air.

Unchu Kuyo Bosatsu Statues, Possessions

South No. 3

This statue sits on a lotus-shaped pedestal placed on a cloud trailing to the left and holds keman (Buddhist decoration). It has a unique face in which such features as eyes and mouth are arranged near the center.

South No. 10

This statue sits on a lotus-shaped pedestal placed on a cloud trailing to the left, facing the front and holds nothing. Unfortunately, the face surface is rough, but the skill achieved in such a difficult posture is recognized from any direction.

South No. 2

This statue sits on a lotus-shaped pedestal placed on a cloud trailing to the left and holds a canopy. The curved piece is shallow as a whole and it invites the observer to meditate with a dreamlike expression.

North No. 25

This statue draws up the right knee on a cloud trailing to the left and sits with the left knee, holds a lotus-shaped pedestal by the left palm and the right hand is attached. The gorgeous figure is the best among all of the statues.

Unchu Kuyo Bosatsu Statues (Monk Figure)

South No. 12

This statue is a monk figure and sits on a cloud trailing to the left, facing the front and prays with hands covered with clothing. On some parts of the clothing, cut metallic foil patterns remain.