DSC21812, Byodoin Temple, Uji City, Japan
After the transfer of the capital to Heian-Kyo in 794, Uji, blessed with nature and being close to the capital, began to develop as the nobility's villa city. Byodoin Temple was the heart of the city. It was originally a villa of Minamoto-No-Tohru, a man presumed to be the model for the hero “Hikaru Genji” of the Tale of Genji. Later the chief adviser to the Emperor Michinaga Fujiwara took possession of the villa, and his son Yorimichi converted it into a temple in 1052, naming it Byodoin. Byodoin temple is said to stand for “Gokurakujodo” which means the “Pure Land” in Buddhism. The impressive original Phoenix Hall was built applying the best technology of the Heian Period. “Byodoin Museum Hoshokan” was opened in March 2001, displaying of Phoenix (World Heritage National Treasure), Worshiping Bodhisattva on Cloud (World Heritage National Treasure), computer graphics and a high definition visual presentation.
Byodoin Temple was established by Kampaku (chief advisor to the Emperor) Fujiwara Yorimichi in 1052. Phoenix Hall was constructed the following year (1053) as the Amidabha Hall (World Heritage National Treasure) to enshrine a statue of Amitabha Tathagata (also a National Treasure). The garden, a Pure Land (Jodo)-style borrowed landscape garden, has been designated a historic site and a place of scenic beauty. The Suhama (sandy beach), the Hirabashi (flat bridge), the Soribashi (arched bridge), and the Kojima (small island) surround Phoenix Hall. Byodoin houses numerous cultural assets from the Heian Period: Yamato-e style paintings depicting Amida's nine grades of descent, the Buddhist Temple-Bell, and the pair of Phoenixes—all National Treasures. Partcularly outstanding are the 52 statues of Worshiping Bodhisattvas on Clouds. These delicately carved national treasures, the only existing group of Buddhist statues from the 11th century, ride on clouds while dancing or playing various musical instruments.