The Temple is one of the two World Heritage sites in Uji and its garden is regarded as a Pure Land Paradise. This 10th century Buddhist Temple was initially built in 998, at the height of political power of the Fujiwara clan during the Heian period (794 to 1192), as a retreat villa for Fujiwara no Michinaga, a powerful politician. However, Michinaga’s son, Yorimichi, turned it into a Temple and ordered the construction of the Phoenix Hall which was built in 1053. The Phoenix Hall is featured on the flip-side of the Japanese Ten yen coin.
Once you have bought your entry ticket, take the path on the left, around the lotus pond and this is what you come to …
It is spectacularly beautiful, with an architecture that speaks volume. The building holds a central hall, two long corridors and is home to a three-meter high statue of Amida Buddha. It is a wooden statue, covered in gold foil, carved by Jocho Busshi, a Heian period sculptor. His speciality was to join multiple pieces of blocks of wood to carve and join it to form a single piece or figure. All that remains today is this Phoenix Hall which is home to a soaring shining statue in the midst of heavenly beings playing instruments…it is a treasure well-worth a visit at least once!
Walk the path around the Hall, and you will come to the museum where you can immerse in its history. One part of the museum holds original artefacts from the temple and the other is almost like walking into a heavenly whirl! Here, dancing celestial beings, child musicians and birds bearing flowers are depicted in rich, vibrant colours. Cameras were not allowed, so I do not have any pictures to show here.
Byodoin Temple & the Museum
Tickets are 600 Yen for both
To visit the Phoenix Hall, it is an additional 300 Yen. You purchase this ticket from a ticket booth within the grounds near the temple. Visits are times every 20 minutes, so your ticket will have a time printed on it.
Return to the queueing point at least 5-minutes before the ticketed time. A guide will lead the group into the hall for a talk about the building. The talk is in Japanese, no audio guides available. It is a narrow hallway and no photographs are allowed.
Even if you do not understand Japanese, it is still worth paying the extra to at least view the statue and its interior at least once in your lifetime, after-all you are there already 😊
08:30 to 17:30
Museum: 09:00 to 17:00
Last entry is 15-minutes before closing
Open all year round.
**Allow yourself at least an hour to walk around but if you are not pressed for time, then more time would be nice, just to relax and take in the serenity of the garden, the lotus pond and the magnificent Temple.