Hokke-ji Temple (Empress Komyo,location,history)

Hokke-ji Temple, Empress Komyo

The information about Hokke-ji Temple is presented here. Empress Komyo, who founded Hokke-ji Temple, was born in 701 as the third daughter of Fujiwara no Fuhito, and became the first non-imperial empress (empress of the 45th Emperor Shomu). Empress Komyo also devoted herself to social welfare, establishing a hospital called Seyakuin, and Hidein for the poor and orphans. It is also said that Empress Komyo built karafuro (bathhouse) at Hokke-ji Temple, where Empress Komyo washed away the dirt of a thousand sentient beings.

【Hokke-ji Temple Location Map & Directions】

Address: 882 Hokkeji-cho, Nara City, Nara Prefecture, Japan
Access (How to get there): Hokkeji bus stop (about 3 minutes on foot)

【Opening Hours & Closed (confirmation required)】

Opening Hours: 9:00-17:00 (Registration closes around 16:30)
Closed: open year round

【Entrance Fees & Tickets (confirmation required)】

Individual (Hondo): Adults 700 yen, Junior High Students 500 yen, Elementary School Students 300 yen

【Hokke-ji Temple History】

The site where Hokke-ji Temple (法華寺) was built was the residence of the court nobleman Fujiwara no Fuhito. When Fujiwara no Fuhito died in 720, Empress Komyo, who is third daughter of Fujiwara no Fuhito and empress of the 45th Emperor Shomu, inherited the residence and made it her empress palace. Incidentally, Empress Komyo was the first empress from outside the imperial family. It is said that the main statue, Juichimen Kannon (Eleven-faced Kannon), is a copy of the image of Empress Komyo walking in the lotus pond. It is said that on February 14th, 741, Emperor Shomu issued a decree to build Kokubunji Temple and Kokubunniji Temple. Hokke-ji Temple is said to have been founded in 745, when Todai-ji Temple became So-Kokubunji Temple (Kinkomyo Shitenno Gokoku-no-tera) and Komyo’s Empress Palace became So-Kokubunniji Temple (Hokke Metsuzai-no-tera). According to the “Shoku Nihon-gi”, Komyo’s Empress Palace was converted into to a temple in May 745, and according to the “Hokkeji Mandokoro-cho”, it is said that a temple was named Hokke-ji Temple in January 747. In addition, Hokke-ji Temple played a role as the fundamental dojo of the nyonin jyobutsu. Empress Komyo encouraged nuns to study Buddhism and set the standard for the nyonin jobutsu. After the death of Emperor Shomu, Empress Komyo also prayed for the emperor’s bodhi. In 760, Empress Komyo died, and it is said that the temple complex was completed around 782. In the same year, the Zo-Hokkeji-shi was abolished. Hokke-ji Temple had a magnificent temple complex including Kondo (Main Hall), To-to (east pagoda), Sai-To (west pagoda), Kodo (lecture hall), and Jikido, within the vast precincts of the temple, with Kondo built on the south side of the present Nan-mon gate. Excavations revealed that the Hokke-ji temple grounds were bounded by Ichijo-jokanro to the north, Nijo-jokanro to the south, Higashi-Nibo-oji to the east, and Higashi-Ichibo-boknroi to the west, extending three towns from north to south and two towns from east to west. In 794, when the 50th Emperor Kanmu moved the capital to Heiankyo, Hokke-ji Temple, like other great temples in Nanto (Nara), declined and its Do-To (hall and pagoda) fell into disrepair. In 1180, Todai-ji Temple and Kofuku-ji Temple were destroyed by the Nanto-yakiuchi of Taira no Shigehira, but it is said that Hokke-ji Temple was also damaged. In 1203, Shunjobo Chogen of Todai-ji Temple restored Kondo (Main Hall) and other temple buildings. In the middle of the Kamakura period (1185-1333), Eison of Saidai-ji Temple, the founder of the Shingon Ritsu sect, revived Kondo (Main Hall) and other temple buildings, gave the precepts to nuns, and led to the revival of the precepts and the rise of Buddhism. It was burned down in 1499 by Akazawa Tomotsune, a vassal of Hosokawa Masamoto. In 1506, it was burned down again by Akazawa Tomotsune. In 1596, the Keicho Fushimi Jishin (earthquake) destroyed all the temple buildings except for To-to (east pagoda). Hokke-ji Temple became a ni-monzeki temple in the Aduchi Momoyama period (1573-1603) when Kokei-ni, the daughter of the 108th Emperor Gomizunoo, entered the temple. Kondo (main hall), Shoro (bell tower), Nan-mon (south gate), and other temple buildings were rebuilt by Yodo-dono, the mother of Toyotomi Hideyori and the wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. In 1707, To-to (east pagoda) collapsed due to an earthquake. In 1999, Hokke-ji Temple was eastablish the Komyo sect after renouncing the Shingon Ritsu sect.
*reference・・・Hokke-ji Temple website

【Hokke-ji Temple Highlights (May be undisclosed)】

★Hondo (main hall, 本堂, Important Cultural Property) was rebuilt in 1601 with a donation from Yodo-dono, the mother of Toyotomi Hideyori and the wife (concubine) of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, with Katagiri Katsumoto as the bugyo. Hondo houses the main statue of Juichimen Kannon (Eleven-faced Kannon) in a zushi.
★Nan-mon Gate (South Gate, 南門, Important Cultural Property) is said to have been built around the Keicho era (1596-1615) by Yodo-dono, and her son Toyotomi Hideyori. Nan-mon Gate is the main gate built on the south side of the temple grounds.
★Meisho Garden (名勝庭園, Place of Scenic Beauty) is said to have been created in the early Edo period (1603-1868) or during the Genroku period (1688-1704) for Kyakuden whichi was moved from the Sento Imperial Palace in Kyoto. Meisho Garden is a walking-style garden with a pond and an area of about 500 tsubo, consisting of a front garden, an inner garden, and a main garden. In Meisho Garden, the irises (kakitsubata) are at their peak in May.
法華寺見どころ (Hokke-ji Temple Highlights)

【Events (confirmation required)】

★Kodai Hinaningyo-ten (古代ひな人形展) is held every year from early March to mid-March, including March 3rd. Kodai Hinaningyo-ten displays about 100 items in Higashi-Shoin, including hinaningyo (hina dolls) brought by successive monzeki (nuns) when they entered the temple and gosho ningyo (court dolls) given to them by successive emperors.
★Hina-eshiki (ひな会式) is held every year from April 1st to 7th. At Hina-eshiki, a memorial service is held in front of the main statue of Juichimen Kannon (Eleven-faced Kannon), which is said to be a copy of Empress Komyo, wife of the 45th Emperor Shomu, walking in the lotus pond, with over 50 Zenzai Doji in the shape of cute children enshrined. Kencha (tea offering) is also said to take place at Hina-eshiki.
★Renge-eshiki (蓮華会式) and Chinowa Kuguri (茅の輪くぐり) are held every year on July 17th. At Chinowa Kuguri, worshippers pass through Chinowa to pray for the release of the summer plague. On Renge-eshiki, lanterns are lit in the temple grounds and decorated with tomyo.

【Flower Calendar (cherry blossoms, etc )】

★The best time to see plum blossoms (梅) is from late February to late March. Red plum, white plum, weeping plum, and Osyuku-bai plum are planted here. Some of the red plum trees were transplanted from the Sento Imperial Palace in Kyoto during the Edo period (1603-1868).
(The best time to see the plants depends on the climate of the year.)

【Telephone (Please refrain from making phone calls.)】

Tel: +81-742-33-2261

【Recommended Walking Route】

The recommended walking route from Hokke-ji Temple is to Kairyuo-ji Temple on the east side of the temple. Kairyuo-ji Temple has Sai-Kondo (Important Cultural Property), which houses a five-story small pagoda (National Treasure) inside. It is also recommended to take a walk to the ruins of Heijo Palace, which is located on the west side.

【Remarks(access, parking, disclaimer, etc)】
If you plan to visit Hokke-ji Temple, be sure to check the latest information.


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