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Constructed in the late Heian Period in 1053, Byōdō-in’s Phoenix Hall (鳳凰堂) is a symmetric building amidst an artificial island in a Pure Land-style garden (浄土式庭園), a now rare form of Japanese gardens that used to be popular during the Heian Period.
One thousand years ago, Phoenix Hall’s interior was an extravagantly decorated room in which a central sitting 280 metres high Amida (阿弥陀如来像) was surrounded by 52 statues of Boddhisattvas (雲中供養菩薩像) on clouds. Over time, the vivid colours of the paintings have lost their saturation, but Amida still thrones over the room.
The interior can be visited for a separate entrance fee (unfortunately it is strictly no photo). Most of the other original sculptures and treasures, however, are stored in a separate modern museum on the grounds and can be observed from up-close.
The temple grounds itself contain numerous other building, most of which are, however, not open to the public. As the hall faces towards the east, morning may be the best time to take pictures of the Phoenix Hall. Season-wise, Phoenix Hall is beautiful throughout the year. Large wisterias, however, in combination with Rhododendron flowers, make late April/early May as the perhaps best season to visit Byōdō-in. In autumn 2017, the temple had held its first public night visit in decades, but due to the Covid pandemic, these visits have once again been restricted to a small number of (expensive) guided tours.

Admission: open year-round, separate admission to interior
Nearby places of interest: Uji Tea shops, Kōshō-ji, Ujigami Shrine

Shinnyodo 2017.jpg

The Phoenix Hall of Byōdō-in.

Phoenix Hall 鳳凰堂
Temple Grounds 伽藍
Night Visit 夜間特別拝観
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