Hôjôji monastery, (in) Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, JP

Raw data

This monastery was built two decades after 1000 A.D., but still can be considered as belonging to the cultural peak of the Heian period (794–1185) when the Fujiwara family was at the height of its power. Fujiwara no Michinaga (966–1027) ruled as the regent (sesshô) for the eight-year-old emperor Go-Ichijô until he retired in 1017, and gave the regency to his son Yorimichi. A severe illness in 1019 prompted Michinaga to take the tonsure and build Hôjôji to the East of his Tsuchimikado mansion on the Eastern border of Kyoto, near Higashikyôgoku Avenue and the Kamo River.

Hôjôji occupied 14 acres with over 12 halls and chapels, and elaborate gardens. A description in the Eiga monogatari (A Tale of Flowering Fortunes, 1028–1107) mentions tile-capped walls around the almost square perimeter, an artificial hill and lake (with artificial lotus flowers), and 16-foot-tall buddhas carved by 100 sculptors. Michinaga and his relatives supplied a labor force of 500 to 1000 men from their private estates, of which there were 200-300 carpenters. Provincial governors provided the materials. The famous Jôchô (d. 1057) worked on the sculptures.

A lake with an island was built roughly in the middle of the grounds. It was surrounded by halls connected with roofed corridors on the western, eastern, and northern sides. On the western side, there was the Amida Hall (Muryôjuin; Nagakawa Midô), the bell tower, and the Samâdhi Hall behind it. The Hall of the Five Great Mystic Kings (Godaidô) stood on the eastern side, along with the Sutra Treasury. To the north stood the Golden Hall (Kondô). Behind it lay the Northwest Cloister (Saihokuin), the monks quarters, Michinaga’s residence, and the lecture hall. The surrounding walls contained a North, a South, and an East Gate. There were two West Gates.

Emperor Go-Ichijô attended the dedication ceremony of the Golden Hall. The Eiga Monogatariitalic text reports that the grounds were decked with jewels and flowers to symbolize the Pure Land. Monks from the south gallery, dressed like bodhisattvas, entered the hall in two lines, led by a marshal. They chanted before the important guests. Incense was lighted. Bodhisattva dances were performed to music. Children did butterfly and bird dances. The ceremony displayed the wealth and power of the Fujiwara regents.

- Shively & McCullough, eds. (1999: 71, 79, 421, 177-179)

After the fire of 1058, Hôjôji was rebuilt by Michinaga’s son Yorimichi. However, along with its Fujiwara patrons, it declined at the end of the Heian period, and is now defunct. One of its cloisters Tôhokuin survives because it was relocated to Sakyô-ku, Jôdojishinno-chô. Today, there is a stone stele marking the original site of Hôjôji in the wall of a school on Kôjinchô Avenue.

-Hôjôji. - http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/法成寺

Hôjôji was dedicated to rebirth in the Pure Land, popularized by the Tendai monk Genshin (942–1017). In the 11th century, Pure Land Buddhism had not yet emerged as a separate denomination.

Input by: Lizbeth H. Piel, Jun 20, 2010

Final data (and their sources)

Last updated: 24 Apr 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 Hojoji monastery, JP.

General location of the Hojoji monastery, JP.
Lat 35.022336, Long 135.768389
Mapping & images: Falling Rain Genomics (http://www.fallingrain.com), 2010.

Google Map link:


Final data - explanatory notes

1. Monastery's name

  • Hôjôji 法成寺. Alternative English spelling: Hôjô-ji, Hojoji

2. Monastery's modern country & province

  • Japan: Kyoto Prefecture

3. Monastery's alternative/historical names

  • [missing data]

4. Monastery's lat/long coordinates

5. Other known nearby Buddhist monasteries

  • [missing data]

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

  • Kyôto-shi (Kyoto City), Kamigyô-ku

7. The settlement's alternative/historical names

8. The settlement's coordinates

9. Monastery's major Buddhist tradition

  • Mahayana

10. Monastery's Buddhist sub-tradition

  • Tendai Amidism

11. Date-early

  • c. 1020: Construction of Amida Hall begins - http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/法成寺
  • The monastery was built two decades after 1000 A.D. - Shively & McCullough, eds. (1999: 71, 79, 421, 177-179)
  • MBM chrono-tag 1000-32c - tmciolek 24 Apr 2013
  • 1000-32c 1033-66c 1067-99c 1100-32c 1133-66c 1167-99c 1200=> dated-el

12. Date-intermediate

13. Date-late

  • MBM chrono-tag 1200=> - tmciolek 24 Apr 2013

14. Details of contacts with other monasteries

  • [missing data]

15. Type of evidence regarding the monastery

  • Documents

16. Additional notes

  • [missing data]

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

  • [missing data]

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