Toji Temple Five Storied Pagoda
(as seen from a distance)
Toji Temple (also known as Kyo-o-gokokuji Temple) is located in Kyoto City, about ten minute walk from the JR Kyoto Station.
During the year AD 794, the capital of Japan was moved from Nara to Kyoto by then Emperor Kammu. To commemorate this move, Emperor Kammu built two guardian temples in Kyoto city at the south gateway of the city; one facing the east (Toji Temple) and facing the west (Saiji Temple). About thirty years later the new Emperor Saga honored Kobo Daishi Kukai (774-835) founder of the Shingon Buddhism, with Toji Temple and gave it the official name Kyo-o-gokokuji, which means the temple that guards the capital and the land by virtue of Ninno-gokoku-kyo (the main sutra of the Shingon sect). Monk Kukai made Toji the central seminary of Esoteric Buddhism and added various other buildings to it.
Many buildings on the Toji temple permises retain their original layout and architectural style. The buildings are a treasure house of Esoteric Buddhist art, due to it's large number of cultural assets brought back from China such as old Buddhist statues, carvings, magnificent paintings, artistic handicrafts etc.
Toji Temple Seal
The temple premises contain a Kon-do (Main Hall), Ko-do (Lecture Hall) and Mei-do (also known as Daisho-do, where Monk Kobo Daishi lived). All these buildings are designated as national treasures by the Japanese government. Toji temple is mainly famous for it's five storied pagoda. This pagoda, at 187 feet height' is the tallest pagoda in Japan. This pagoda was first built in 826 by Monk Kukai. Unfortunately it was burned down due to lightning many times. The current structure visitors see was built in 1644 by the third Tokugawa Shogun Iemitsu.
Here is a video of this magnificent pagoda at Toji Temple.
There are many great Buddha statues inside the Kon-do and Ko-do. The Kon-do houses Yakushi (Buddhas) Triad (Yakushi-nyorai and his two attendants, Nikko and Gakko Bosatsu). The lecture hall (Ko-do) contains twenty-one Buddhist statues. These twenty-one Buddhist statues are arranged according to the Mikkyo Mandala described in the main sutra of Esoteric Buddhism (Shingon teachings), with the principal Buddha (Dainichi-nyorai) at the center. Inside the five storied pagoda there are images of four Buddhas and their followers, facing the four sides of the pagoda.
Lecture Hall (Ko-do)
Main Hall (Kon-do)
Buddhas in Lecture Hall
Buddhas in Main Hall
The Miei-do where Monk Kobo Daishi lived was burned down in 1379. It was rebuilt the following year and ten years later a statue of Monk Kobo Daishi was enshrined.
On the 21st of every month (the day of Kobo-Daishi), no less than three hundred thousand pilgrims visit here to worship before the image of Kobo Daishi. Also once every month, the Toji temple premises hold a flea market which is famous in the entire Kyoto city area.
If you are taking a bullet train from Kyoto towards west (Osaka, Fukuoka), you can see the magnificent Toji Temple and it's pagoda, as soon as you leave the JR Kyoto Station.