Daianji monastery/nunnery, (near) Nara, Nara Prefecture, JP

Raw data

Daianji (“Great Peace Temple”), located to the south of Nara City, was one of the Seven Great Southern Temples of Nara (Nanto Shichidaiji). Its previous incarnation was Daikandaiji in Takaichi-gun, Asuka-mura, which was moved to the new capital at Heijo (= Nara) in 716. It was renamed Daian-ji in 745.

In 736, monk “Butetsu” of Vietnam and his master Bodhisena from India visited via China and took up residence. Daianji monk Fushô returned from China in 754, having succeeded in engaging Ganjin (Jianzhen 688–763) to give lectures in Japan.

The Lecture hall and West Pagoda burned down in 911 and 949 respectively.
- “Daianji nenpyô” http://www.daianji.or.jp/03-reki.html

Chinese scholar Tao-hsüan (702-766) of the Ta-fu temple in Lo-yang traveled to Japan in 736 on an invitation to teach Vinaya rituals of the Nanzan (Nanshan) sect, and stayed at Daianji in Nara where he gave lectures, and chanted at the dedication ceremony of the great Buddha of Tôdaiji. Then he went to Hisodera.

The Buddhism practiced was “syncretistic and liberal” and may have included some Tendai precepts.

The Hossô monk Shôgo (732-811) was appointed Vinaya master (Risshi) at Daianji in 797, and then lesser supervisor in 805, and greater supervisor in 806. Saichô entered in a bitter debate with Hossô critics at Daianji, at the invitation of a lay donor from the Wake clan. After that he became more hostile towards the Nara schools.

- Groner (2000: 23, 29n, 69n, 88-9)

In the Nara period, abbot Dôji (?-744), who had studied in China, resided at Dianji and constructed temple buildings in the style of Xi-ming monastery (Hsi-ming-ssu) in Chang'an, capital of T'ang Dynasty China. By the Heian period, the Dianji precincts covered 15 (Heian-period city blocks), consisting of cloisters, monks' residences, a dining hall and two gardens. Most of the architecture was destroyed by a fire in 1384, and by earthquakes in 1449 and 1576. The main hall was rebuilt in the Meiji period (1868–1912).

- Tamamuro (1992: 533)

Today, two pagodas remain, and “rare statues in the style of Daianji-yoshiki”
- http://www.pref.nara.jp/nara_e/dd_aspx_itemid-1505.htm

Input by: Lizbeth H. Piel, Jul 17, 2010

Kudara Ôdera was a large temple, originally built somewhere along the Kudara River. Archaeologists now believe that the original foundation has been uncovered at Kibi pond in Sakurai City. It consists of traces of a large-scale main hall, a pagoda, and a covered walkway. The site lies northeast of the ancient Asuka area, and east of Kaguyama, between the Tera River in the north, and the Yone River in the south. The style of the roof tiles and the construction method of the foundation accords with 7th-century techniques.

According to the Nihon shoki (720), Emperor Jomei (r. 629-641) ordered the construction of Kudara Ôdera in 639 after converting to Buddhism. He was apparently influenced by five Japanese priests who returned from three missions to Tang China. It has been suggested that Priest Dôji (?-744), who had visited Tang China, was involved in the design of the Kudara Ôdera. One year later, Jomei relocated into a “Kudara Palace” nearby. The Daianji engi (Historical Account of Daianji, 747) downplays Jomei, and claims that Empress Suiko asked Prince Shôtoku to build the temple. However, Shôtoku died shortly after, leaving it up to Jomei.

The Nihon shoki says that a 9-story pagoda was constructed by 640. It burnt to the ground, according to the Daianji engi. This would have been an unusually large structure by the standards of 7th century Japan. Several 9-story pagodas are known to have existed in Sui and Tang China, as well as in Silla, Korea. In 673, following changes in political patronage, the temple moved to Takechi-gun, and was renamed Takechi Ôdera. It 677, it was renamed Daikandaiji. This exact location has not yet been found. After Daikandaiji burned down in 711, the sacred objects were apparently transferred to Daianji, newly constructed in Heijô.

-McCallum (2009: 83-153)

Src: JPN

Input by: Lizbeth H. Piel, Jan 31, 2010

Final data (and their sources)

Last updated: 14 Jan 2013

Lat/Long coordinates' accuracy:
The monastery in question is assumed to be situated actually no farther than 200 m from the point defined by the coordinates below.

Location of Daianji monastery/nunnery, JP.

General location of the Daianji monastery/nunnery, JP.
Lat 34.6681 Long 135.8127
Mapping & images: Falling Rain Genomics (http://www.fallingrain.com), 2010.

Google Map link:


Final data - explanatory notes

1. Monastery's name

  • Daianji 大安寺 Alternative English spelling: Daian-ji

2. Monastery's modern country & province

  • Japan: Nara Prefecture

3. Monastery's alternative/historical names

4. Monastery's lat/long coordinates

  • Approx., Lat 34.6681 Long 135.8127 - based on the visual identification of the Daianji's site, using maps.google.com - tmciolek, 19 Jul 2010.

5. Other known nearby Buddhist monasteries

6. Modern name of the known nearest city, town, or village

  • Nara-shi (Nara City), Daianji

7. The settlement's alternative/historical names

  • Heijô-kyô (Heijô Capital)

8. The settlement's coordinates

9. Monastery's major Buddhist tradition

  • Mahayana

10. Monastery's Buddhist sub-tradition

  • Ritsu/Risshi (Vinaya) and “syncretistic” Nara Buddhism - Groner (2000: 29n)
  • Hossô, Sanrinshû - Tamamuro (1992: 533)

11. Date-early

  • MBM chrono-tag 0633-66c - tmciolek 14 Jan 2013
  • 0633-66c 0667-99c 0700-32c 0733-66c 0767-99c 0800-32c 0833-66c 0867-99c 0900-32c 0933-66c 0967-99c 1000-32c 1033-66c 1067-99c 1100-32c 1133-66c 1167-99c 1200=> dated-el

12. Date-intermediate

  • Construction continued to the 650’s. It was moved to Takechi-gun in 673, and was renamed Takechi Ôdera. In 677, it was renamed Daikandaiji. - McCallum (2009: 4, 138)
  • Daikandaiji burned down in 711, along with the Fujiwara Palace. Its sacred objects were moved the city of Heijô, and housed in a new structure, Daianji. - McCallum (2009: 143)

13. Date-late

  • Most of the monastery's architecture was destroyed by a fire in 1384, and by earthquakes in 1449 and 1576. The main hall was rebuilt in the Meiji period (1868–1912). - Tamamuro (1992: 533)
  • MBM chrono-tag 1200=> - tmciolek 14 Jan 2013

14. Details of contacts with other monasteries

  • in 736 AD Ta-Fu-Hsien monastery in Lo-yang, China, through Tao-hsüan - Groner (2000: 23)
  • Eighth-century documents list Kudara Ôdera as one of four great temples connected with the imperial family in the 7th century. The others are Asukadera, Kawaradera, and Yakushiji. - McCallum (2009: 2)

15. Type of evidence regarding the monastery

  • Architectural, archeological, documents

16. Additional notes

  • According to the Nihon shoki (720), in 682 there were over 140 priests at Daikandaiji. In 686, Emperor Tenmu gave the monastery a fief of “700 households and 300,000 bales of rice.” There were also nuns present, since “rules for priests and nuns” were proclaimed at Daianji in 701. According to the Genkô shakusho, 500 people resided in “Daikanji.” - McCallum (2009: 143)

17. Corrections & addenda to this page were kindly provided by

  • [missing data]

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