Kyoto 3: Toji

Toji was built two years after the capital of Japan was moved to Kyoto (it was founded in 796),
and houses some very important Buddhist sculpture mandalas and the tallest pagoda in Japan.


Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.


There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
— Toji is in the following Gallery (Direct Link) —

Japan: Kyoto Temples 2
Sanjusangendo, Tenryuji, Toji



“The Temple which guards the capital and the land
by virtue of Ninno-gokoku-kyo” (the main Shingon sutra)

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Toji Temple is as old as Kyoto.

Built in 796, two years after the capital was moved to Kyoto, Toji (the East Temple) was built on the
East side of the Rashomon gate, and was established to protect the main entrance to the city that Emperor
  Kammu created for his new capital in 794. The Kondo was built in 796, burned in the 15th century, and was rebuilt
  in the original Momoyama tenjikuyo (the massive “Indian” style). Toji and it’s partner to the west (Saiji) were the
only temples allowed in Kammu’s Heian-kyo, as the Emperor wanted to get away from the meddling priests.

The Kondo (main hall) contains the Yakushi Nyorai triad (Yakushi, Buddha of Healing,
and the two attendant Bodhisattvas Nikko and Gakko (Radiant Sun and Moon).
The Kodo (Lecture Hall) houses the Mikkyo Sculpture Mandala, a 21-statue
grouping based on a description in the main sutra of Esoteric Buddhism.


Toji 9122

The Kondo and a bronze lantern framed by the  Minami Daimon (south gate) at the entrance to Toji.
The Minami Daimon was originally the West Gate at Sanjusangendo, and was brought to Toji in 1895.


Toji Kondo 9124

The Kondo was first built in 796, and burned
in 1486. The double-roofed (Irimoya-style) Kondo
is the largest building in the Toji temple compound.
Note that on this side, the roof over the door is raised.


Toji Kondo 9126

The Kondo was rebuilt last in 1603 by Hideyori, son of
Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of the great unifiers of Japan.
It houses the Yakushi Nyorai Triad (shown further below).
The Kondo is a National Treasure, and is constructed
using styles and skills from Japan, China and India.


Toji Kondo Gojunoto 9127

This unbelievably difficult shot (dark wood, bright sky and haze) shows the
Gojunoto (5-story pagoda) in the background. This is the tallest pagoda in Japan.

Every time I took a shot to the southeast (towards the pagoda), I was
shooting dark wood against the bright sky, causing the sky to overexpose.


Toji Kodo 9129

The Kodo (Lecture Hall) was built in 823-835, was last rebuilt in 1598, and contains Kukai’s
original statues arranged in the Mikkyo (Ryokai) mandala, carved in the 8th and 9th centuries.

The Mikkyo Mandala is described in the main sutra of the Shingon sect of Buddhism. The principal
statue in the mandala is Dainichi Nyorai. There are a number of statues which were brought to Japan
from China by Kukai, which can be seen in the Kodo. The grouping of the statues is in the formation
of the Karman Mandala. The arrangement formation itself has meaning in Esoteric Buddhism.


Toji Monks 9130


Toji Monks 9132


Toji Monks 9133


Toji Monolith Jikido Refectory 9135

The building in the background is a 1930 copy of the original (796) refectory, now a study hall.
The monolith (a very attractive stone in my opinion) is inscribed “Amida Sho Kannon”

Amida Nyorai is the Buddha of Infinite Light and Life, supreme in the Pure Land sects.
The Kamakura Daibutsu is a representation of Amida Buddha (Amitabha).
The Pure Land (Jodo) sects are among the most popular in Japan.

Sho Kannon is the sacred form of Kannon, the model for the other forms.
Sho Kannon brings salvation to beings in the realm of Hell. Sho Kannon is
also known as Guze Kannon, a non-Esoteric form (such as at Horyuji).

The placement of the Kondo, Kodo and Jikido at Toji are themselves a mandala, which are intended to
represent the doctrine of Mikkyo Esoteric (Tantric) Buddhism. The Kondo represents Butsu (Buddha).
The Kodo represents Po (Dharma), the precepts (traditions) of Mikkyo. The Jikido represents So
(Sangha), monks themselves discovering the principles of Esoteric Buddhism in everyday life.

Ashikaga Takauji (first Shogun of the Ashikaga Shogunate, beginning the Muromachi period),
once lived at Toji while he had his headquarters there in Heian-Kyo, and lived in the Jikido.

The red sign in the background (No-Kyo-Sho) is where pilgrims get their ticket
stamped to start the Shikoku pilgrimage (three times a year, 88 spots in Shikoku Island).
It begins at Toji and ends at Koya-san where Kukai died. The pilgrimage is to honor Kobo Daishi
(Kukai), the founder of the Shingon sect of Buddhism, who established the Mikkyo Mandala at the Kodo.


Toji Bishamondo detail 9136


Toji Bishamondo exterior Shrine detail 9137

The Bishamondo

The famous Rashomon gate (the main, southern gate at Heian-kyo) was built in 789. Japanese during this period were afraid of the dark, as numerous Oni (trolls) and other evil spirits were wandering about... (actually, the area south of Kyoto was not a good area at the time), so they placed a statue of Bishamonten in the Rashomon gate to protect the capital against the evil spirits, trolls and others of their ilk.

Bishamonten is one of the Seven Lucky Gods of Japan, and among many other things he is Commander of the Shitenno in his aspect of Tamonten. In his aspect Tobatsu Bishamon, he protects capitals, repels foreign invaders, and expels evil. When worshipped individually, he is called Bishamonten (or one of his other aspects, e.g. Tobatsu Bishamon), but when operating as Commander of the Shitenno, he is Tamonten.

One particularly nasty troll was named Taira no Masakado, a samurai landowner in the Kanto region, who organized an armed rebellion against the government in 939, first capturing the governor of Hitachi Province, then conquering the eight provinces of eastern Japan, after which he declared himself Shinno (or New Emperor). His problems really started when he killed his uncle Kunika, after which the Emperor put a bounty on his head. He was killed in Chiba, and his head was brought to the Emperor in Kyoto, then the head was buried and enshrined at Kanda Myojin on a hill at the edge of Tokyo Bay by the people of Shibasaki (now Otemachi, the financial district of Tokyo), who respected Masakado for his defiance of authority. Tokugawa Ieyasu built Edo Castle right across from the head, possible to gain protection from proximity to the head and the shrine. When his shrine was maintained, all went well with the area, but when it was not maintained, disasters struck -- especially if a Buddhist Temple is built nearby. His shrine is still maintained today on some of the most expensive real estate in the world.

Bishamonten was supposed to protect Heian-Kyo from trolls like this (he must have done all right, because Taira no Masakado never did take over Kyoto), but in 978 a massive wind destroyed the gate. The statue of Bishamonten was moved to the Jikido at Toji, where he resided until 1822, when the Bishamondo was built to house him. The Bishamondo was renovated in 1994, during the 1200th anniversary of the moving of the capital to Kyoto.


Toji Bishamondo detail 9136c


Toji Monk’s Quarters 9138

One of the more interesting houses in a dense group
located in the area between the Bishamondo and the
Mieido (shown below). This one shows a style that is
similar to late Heian period architecture, although it
could simply have been a later replica of the style.

The stele to the right states that a group of people
 in the congregation donated the Mieido stepping
stones in the 13th year of the Meiji Era (1881).


Toji Stele 9143


Toji Bonsho 9141

Records indicate that the Toji Bonsho was donated
by Ashikaga Takauji (founder and first Shogun of the
Ashikaga Shogunate) in 1348. The bell shown above
is a duplicate (the original is in the Treasure House).


Toji Bronze Lantern 9142

This is a very interesting bronze lantern, filled with
Buddhist symbolism. There is a hoju (sacred jewel)
above a lotus; the Imperial Chrysanthemum kamon
(crests), both positives and negatives; 8-spoked
Dharma Wheels (the wheel of Buddhist Law); a
dragon (protector of Buddhist Law and symbol
of Imperial Power); the 12 Zodiac Animals;
Vajra weapons (visible are single and triple
prong versions) and other symbols.


Toji Bronze Lantern 9142 detail
(Composite will open in a second window)

Two large detail crops of the Bronze Lantern allowing examination of the Symbols (see list above).

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.


There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
— Toji is in the following Gallery (Direct Link) —

Japan: Kyoto Temples 2
Sanjusangendo, Tenryuji, Toji


Toji Mieido 9139

The oldest remaining building at Toji, the Miedo (Daishido) was built for Kukai, burned in 1379 and was rebuilt in 1380. Kukai (Kobo Daishi), the priest who created the character of Toji when he was made steward of the temple by Emperor Saga in 823, had his residence on this spot. He is the one who conceived, commissioned, and laid out the sculpture display in the Kodo that depicts the two worlds of the Ryokai mandala. These sculptures are the spiritual heart of Toji.


Toji Mieido 9144

Kukai lived a legendary life (774-835). His wanderings of his home island (Shikoku) led to the Shikoku Pilgrimage of 88 temples that are associated with Kukai. In the early Middle Ages (Muromachi period), he became considered as an incarnation of Buddha. A hall was built at Toji for the worship of Kukai. The Mieido, houses a statue of Kukai and his personal Fudo-Myoo. These are not shown to the public (they are considered to be too sacred).


Toji Kodo roof detail 9145

Note the ornate Onigawara (Goblin tile).


Toji Kodo detail 9146

Detail of the bracketing under the eaves.


Toji Kondo 9148

Beyond the eaves of the Kodo (Lecture Hall), a view of the Kondo (Main Hall).


Toji Kondo 9149

Exposed for the wooden architecture (blowing the sky).
Note that the roof structure is different on this side.


Toji Kondo detail 9161

Close detail around the door, exposed for the wood.


Toji Gojunoto 9150, 9156
(Composite will open in a second window)

This image was created from the full-sized XL Composite, thus the small text.

Toji has the tallest wooden Gojunoto (5-story pagoda) in Japan, just beyond the Kondo.
The pagoda was rebuilt in the Edo period by order of Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu in 1643.
The Toji pagoda has burned five times since it was built by Kukai (Kobo Taishi) in 826.

Notice the very bright sky in this direction, and that it gets brighter to the left... the sun is to the left.
Shooting a dark subject up against a very bright sky and almost directly towards the sun is not a very
good idea most of the time, but in this case there was no choice. The processing of the image to
the left was quite difficult... contrast was low and it was hard to get detail out of the wood. The
image on the right was shot from close up, using the pagoda to block most of the sky.
To get the detail in the wood I had to overexpose the sky. This is really dark wood.


Toji Kondo 9157

The Kondo shot from in front of the pagoda, with sakura. Kondo literally means Golden Hall.


Toji Kondo 9158

The Kondo houses the Yakushi Nyorai shown further below.
The construction of a Kondo (built during the Asuka and Nara periods
and declining in use from the 10th century on) is a true two story building,
with a three by two bay central core surrounded by one bay wide aisles
(hisashi), making a total of 5 by 4 bays, surrounded by a one bay wide
mokoshi, (an external perimeter aisle). The upper story has the 3x2
core and the hisashi (aisles), but no mikoshi, so it is smaller.

During the Heian period, Hondos were built (literally Main Hall).
The primary difference is that Kondo are generally too small to
 offer space for worshippers, while Hondo have dedicated a
space for the worshippers to be inside during services.


Toji Kodo 9159

The Kodo contains 21 sculptures (15 are original eighth to ninth century wood carvings),
arranged in a mandala in 3 dimensions containing five Nyorai, five Bodhisattvas, five Myoo
(Kings of Light and Wisdom), Taishakuten (Indra), the Deva Kings, and Bonten (Brahma).

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.


There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
— Toji is in the following Gallery (Direct Link) —

Japan: Kyoto Temples 2
Sanjusangendo, Tenryuji, Toji


Toji Yakushi Nyorai 9162

Yakushi Nyorai (Healing Buddha) with Nikko (the Moon Bodhisattva) on his left. Yakushi Nyorai
is supported by his 12 Yakshas (Generals). Surrounding Buddha in the aureole are 7 healing
buddhas (emanations). Yakushi Nyorai is a Momoyama period replacement (1603) for the
Heian period original which was lost in the fire of 1486 which burned much of the temple.


Toji Yakushi Nyorai Generals 9162-63c
(1200 x 1089 Composite will open in a second window)

Detail crops of the Yaksha (Yasha) Generals under the mokakesa (throne) of Yakushi Nyorai.
These sculptures have been attributed to Kosho, fourth son of the famed busshi (sculptor) Unkei.
Unkei led Nara’s Kei School of Kamakura-era sculptors, and many of the most influential sculptures
of the period were created by Kei School busshi. The Kei School dominated Buddhist sculpture
   through the 13th and 14th centuries, primarily because their new, powerful and dynamic style
appealed to the military government in Kamakura (and because their ‘unrefined’ style
did not appeal to the aristocracy, who supported the ‘more refined’ Enpa and Inpa
busshi based in Kyoto. The Kamakura government wanted to distance their
operations from the interference of the court and the aristocracy. They
also had to rebuild a great many temples (including Todaiji and
Kofukuji, among many Nara temples) which had been burned
by Taira armies during the Genpei war (between the Taira
and the victorious Minamoto clans in 1180-1185). The
successful completion of these prestigious contracts
by the Kei School busshi reduced the importance of
their rivals in Kyoto, and their fortunes rose rapidly.


Toji Yakushi Nyorai 9163

Yakushi Nyorai with Gakko, the Radiant Sun on his right. This was an imperfect, rescued image.
While it is significantly below my standards (and yours), it is posted here for completeness.


Toji Dainichi Nyorai 9164
(Birushana, Vairocana)

Dainichi = Great Sun
The Cosmic Buddha

Dainichi Nyorai is flanked by the four Diamond World Buddhas (Ashuku, Hosho, Fuku and Amida).

The statue of Dainichi Nyorai is seven feet tall, and is placed in the center of the sculpture mandala.
In Mikkyo (Esoteric Buddhism, the form introduced to Japan by Kukai) Dainichi Nyorai is the Supreme Deity.
Dainichi Nyorai is represented by many famous sculptures, including the Nara Daibutsu at Todaiji.
Dainichi Nyorai is the central figure in all Shingon sect Esoteric Buddhist mandalas.


Toji Dainichi Nyorai 9165

Dainichi Nyorai is the Japanese for Vairocana, the embodiment of Dharmakaya and universal
aspect of the historical Gautama Buddha. The Todaiji Daibutsu statue is a representation of
Dainichi Nyorai. Buddhism in Japan evolved and gradually, Dainichi became superceded
by Amitabha (Amida, left), but Toji (Shingon Buddhism) still regards Dainichi as central.
The famous Kamakura Daibutsu is a representation of Amida (Amitabha).


Toji Zochoten 9166

Shitenno (Deva King) of the South, gilded wood (839 AD).


Toji Zochoten 9166 detail

These sculptures are in the Kodo, and are 9th century wood carvings. Kobo Daishi (Kukai) commisioned them in 826. 15 are the original carvings (finished in 839). The other six were replacements of those that burned in the fire of 1486.

(Thanks to Mark Schumacher for the ID)

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.


There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
— Toji is in the following Gallery (Direct Link) —

Japan: Kyoto Temples 2
Sanjusangendo, Tenryuji, Toji


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