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Encyclopedia > Buddhist temples in Japan

Buddhist temples in Japan are varied, yet there are certain generalizations that can be made, and general rules or guidelines that are followed.

Along with Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples are the most numerous, famous, and important religious buildings in Japan. The Japanese word for a Buddhist temple is tera (?), and the same kanji also has the pronunciation ji, so temple names often end with -ji or -dera. There are a number of other variations such as -in. Famous temples in Japan including Enryaku-ji, Kiyomizu-dera, and Kotoku-in illustrate the naming patterns. Jinja may be: Jinja, a city in Uganda close to the source of the Nile River Jinja, the district in Uganda named after the above city Jinja, a Shinto shrine Jinja, a Template engine This is a disambiguation page: a list of articles associated with the same title. ... Buddhism (also known as Buddha Dharma, meaning approximately Law of the Awakening) is a religion, a practical philosophy, and arguably a psychology, focusing on the teachings of the Buddha Śākyamuni (Siddhārtha Gautama), who lived in ancient India most likely from the mid-6th to the early 5th century BCE... Japanese writing Kanji Kana Hiragana Katakana Hentaigana Manyogana Uses Furigana Okurigana Rōmaji Kanji (Japanese: ) are the Chinese characters that are used in the modern Japanese logographic writing system along with hiragana (平仮名), katakana (片仮名), and the arabic numerals. ... Enryakuji (延暦寺), a monastery on Mount Hiei (比叡山) overlooking Kyoto, was founded during the late eighth and early ninth centuries by Saicho (最澄: 767-822 AD), also known as Dengyo Daishi (傳教大師), who introduced the Tendai (天台; Chinese tian1 tai2) sect to Japan from China. ... Kiyomizu-dera Kiyomizu-dera (or Kiyomizudera, 清水寺) refers to several Buddhist temples but most commonly to Otowasan Kiyomizudera (音羽山清水寺) in Eastern Kyoto, and one of the best known sights of the city. ...


Layout & Geomantic Positioning

Buddhist temple complexes consist of a number of structures arranged according to certain concepts or guidelines.

The Hōryū-ji in Nara, which claims to include the world's oldest wooden buildings, serves as a perfect example of the standard layout of a Buddhist temple/monastery complex. There are three essential buildings in any temple complex: a pagoda (tō (?), typically three or five stories), a Great Hall (often called kondō (金堂?) or honden (本殿?)), and a monastic study hall kodo (講堂?). Horyu-ji. ... , Nara ) is the capital city of Nara Prefecture in the Kansai region of Japan, near Kyoto. ... A pagoda at Sibu, Sarawak, Malaysia A pagoda is the general term in the English language for a tiered tower with multiple eaves common in China, Japan, Korea, and other parts of Asia. ...

The arrangement of the major buildings (garan haichi (伽藍配置?)) changed over time. An early pattern had a gate, tower, kondo and kodo in a straight line from south to north. Corridors extended east and west from the flanks of the gate, then turned north, and finally joined north of the kodo, forming a cloister around the pagoda and the major halls. This pattern, typified by Shitenno-ji in Osaka, came from China, through Baekje; the Chinese style of Buddhist temples, though altered somewhat by its passage through Korea, ultimately was based on that of Chinese palaces, and this is evident in many of the basic design features which remain today in the temples of all three countries. Osaka City Hall Mayor Junichi Seki Address 〒530-8201 Osaka-shi,Kita-ku Nakanoshima 1-3-20 Phone number 06-6208-8181 Official website: Osaka City , Osaka ) is the capital of Osaka Prefecture and the third-largest city in Japan, with a population of 2. ... Baekje was a kingdom that existed in southwestern Korea from 18 BCE to 660 CE. Together with Goguryeo and Silla, Baekje is known as one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. ...

A Buddhist temple complex in Japan generally follows the pattern of a series of sacred spaces encircling a courtyard, and entered via a set of gates. These gates will typically have a pair of large guardian statues, called Nio. The Niō (仁王, lit. ...

In addition, many of the more important or powerful temples are built in locations which are favorable according to the precepts of Chinese geomancy. For example, Enryaku-ji, which sits atop Mount Hiei to the north-east of Kyoto, is said to defend the city from evil spirits by being placed in that direction. The arrangements of mountains and other geographic features in particular directions around the temple play important roles as well. This custom continued for a long time. Eight centuries after the founding of Enryakuji, the Tokugawa shogunate established Kan'ei-ji in a similar direction for the protection of their castle in Edo. Its mountain-name, Tōei-zan, takes a character from Hiei-zan (Mount Hiei), and can be interpreted as meaning "the Mount Hiei of the East." Mount Hiei (Jp. ... This page is about the city Kyoto. ... The Tokugawa shogunate or Tokugawa bakufu (徳川幕府) (also known as the Edo bakufu) was a feudal military dictatorship of Japan established in 1603 by Tokugawa Ieyasu and ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family until 1868. ... Edo Castle (江戸城 -jō) was built in 1457 by ÅŒta Dōkan in what is now the Chiyoda ward of Tokyo, but was then known as Edo, Toshima District, Musashi Province. ... Edo (Japanese: 江戸, literally: bay-door, estuary, pronounced //), once also spelled Yedo or Yeddo, is the former name of the Japanese capital Tokyo. ...

In addition to geomantic considerations, Buddhist temples, like any other religious structures, need to be organized in order to best serve their various purposes. The most primary space in any Buddhist temple complex is the sacred space, where images of Buddhas and bodhisattvas are kept, and where important rituals are performed. This area is always separated off from the areas accessible to the lay worshippers, though the distance between the two and the manner of their separation is quite varied. In many temples, there is little more than a wooden railing dividing the sacred space with that of the laypeople; but in many others, there is a significant distance, perhaps a gravelled courtyard, between the two. Prince Siddhartha Gautama as a bodhisattva, before becoming a Buddha. ...

Another structure or space of great importance accomodates the physical day-to-day needs of the clergy. Spaces for eating, sleeping and studying are essential, particularly in those temples that serve as monasteries.


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The architecture of Buddhist temples, like that of any structure, has changed and developed over the centuries. However, while the particular details may vary, the general themes and styles have strong similarities and common origins. Image File history File links Wiki_letter_w. ...

Most, if not all, Buddhist temple buildings exhibit the same basic design elements as other traditional Japanese buildings. Tall thick wooden columns serve as the load-bearing and stabilizing element of the structure. Each column sits atop a single large stone, anchoring the building. The walls, floors, and complex bracketed roof structure are then built around these columns. There is great diversity in the style and appearance of roofs, but most follow the basic concept of a tiled sloping roof. The roofs of many older temples, designed more directly on mainland forms, have upturned flaring corners. Meanwhile, newer temples that are based more on native Japanese styles will have smoother, flatter roof corners.

The Hōryū-ji already mentioned was one of the first, if not the first, Buddhist temple built in Japan. Its primary structures represent the style then current in 6th century Sui dynasty China. The Konden (Golden Hall) is a double-roofed structure, supported by thick, strong pillars, and giving a feeling of boldness and weight. The Sui Dynasty (Chinese: 隋朝; Hanyu Pinyin: 581-618) followed the Southern and Northern Dynasties and preceded the Tang Dynasty in China. ...


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See also

The Buddhist temple Wat Chiang Man, in Chiang Mai, Thailand, which dates from the late 13th century Buddhist temples and monasteries, sorted by location. ... Buddhist religious architecture developed in the Indian subcontinent in the third century BCE. Two types of structures are associated with early Buddhism: stupas and viharas. ... It has been suggested that Buddhist symbolism be merged into this article or section. ... Terakoya (寺子屋, which literally means temple schools) are private educational institutions that taught writing and reading to the children of Japanese commoners during the Edo era. ...


  • Sansom, George (1962). "Japan: A Short Cultural History." New York: Appleton-Century Crofts, Inc.



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