Aug. 26, 2020 UPDATE
Story & Recommendation
Byodo-in Temple is a world heritage site that you can also see on the 10 yen coin
The temple was first built as a villa by Minamoto no Shigenobu in 998, over a thousand years ago. The villa was changed into a Buddhist temple by Fujiwara no Yorimichi in 1052. The next year the most famous and the only remaining original building on the site, the Phoenix Hall was built. The Phoenix Hall, also known as the Amida Hall, is a beautiful building that is surrounded by a clear pond. The hall almost looks like it was floating on top of the glistening blue pond. The architecture of the temple is spectacular; no wonder it is a world heritage site. All the buildings at the site are beautifully renovated with the bright colors of the Heian period.
At the center of the Phoenix Hall there is a 2.43m tall golden statue of Amida Nyorai (Amitabha Tathagata) and the surrounding walls are painted with pictures of the nine levels of birth as told in the Amitayurdhyena Sutra. In the same room you can also see the Unchukuyo Bosatsu, 52 wooden statues that are said to lead believers to Amida’s Pure Land after death. There is also a convex mirror like the feng shui bagua one, which has eight petals on the center and 66 bronze mirrors on its sides. It is easy to imagine how at night this mirror will reflect candle light stunningly. Only 50 people are let in at a time and you have 20 minutes to tour the hall before it is time for the group. Because of this you should be prepared to wait.
Byodo-in Museum Hoshokan
Hoshokan opened as a museum in 2001, and was the first registered museum in Japan run by a temple. The museum contains many national treasures on display, and these national treasures are a must-see if you are in Kyoto! The museum also provides virtual exhibitions and at the museum you can see ultra-high-resolution images of the Phoenix Hall.
Byodo-in has a museum shop as well. The museum shop offers Byodo-in merchandise. Some of the items are also available to be purchased through the online shop.
- Manner & Tips -
You can get more of your visit to the Phoenix Hall after you visit Hoshokan, so I recommend you go to Hoshokan first and read about the history of the Phoenix Hall there.