Today, we will be going to Kofukuji!
Okay, here we go!!
(After having a meal first, of course!)
Food always comes first! 😉
For the livelier side of Nara, check out my previous post – here:
These steps will lead you all the way up to – Kofukuji Temple Grounds.
Kofukuji used to be the family temple of the Fujiwara, the most powerful family clan during much of the Nara and Heian Periods.
The temple was established in Nara at the same time as the capital in 710. At the height of Fujiwara power, the temple consisted of over 150 buildings.
Eastern Golden Hall
There are three Golden Halls at Kofukuji, all of which take their names according to their location in the temple complex.
The Eastern Golden Hall, located not far from the National Treasure Museum, features a large wooden statue of the Yakushi Buddha.
The original structure was built by the request of the Emperor Gensho n the year 726, to speed the recovery of the ailing Empress Genmei.
The current building dates to 1415.
Enshrined within are Yakushi Nyorai, Nikko Bosatsu, Gakko Bosatsu, Monju Bosatsu & Yuima Koji.
Last but not least, the Shi Tenno which are the “Four Deva Kings and designated as National Treasures.
And finally there are Juni Shinsho – The Twelve Heavenly Generals, also designated as National Treasures.
Today a couple of buildings of great historic value remain, including the Five Storied Pagoda and a Three Storied Pagoda.
Five Storied Pagoda
This pagoda was constructed by the order of the Empress, around the year 725.
And It was finally built in 730, and was most recently refurbished in 1426.
This current building is a restoration completed in 1426 and is the second highest Pagoda in Japan, rising up to a height of 50.1 meters.
Inside the structure on the first level, enshrined around the central pillar are Four Unique Pillars.
The Yakushi triad clan adorns the East Pillar, while a Shaka triad clan wraps around the South Pillar.
As for the Western Pillar, an Amida triad clan is engraved around the pillar, and the Miroku triad clan is carved beautifully around the Northern Pillar.
At 50 .1 meters, the Five Storied Pagoda is Japan’s second tallest, just seven meters shorter than the Five Storied Pagoda at Kyoto’s Toji Temple.
Kofukuji’s pagoda is both a landmark and symbol of Nara.
While entrance to Kofukuji’s Temple Grounds is free and possible around the clock, there are two areas that require paying an entrance fee.
Those areas are: Kofukuji’s National Eastern Golden Hall and Treasure Museum.
National Treasure Museum
The recently renovated National Treasure Museum exhibits part of the temple’s great art collection and is an absolute must-see for lovers of Buddhist art.
The Museum was built to house the various statues, paintings, books, craftworks and historical documents which have been designated National Treasures or as Important Cultural Properties.
The Museum, completed in 1959 ,was opened to the public in the hope that it would contribute to a deeper understanding of Buddhism, and a heightened appreciation of Buddhist cultural artifacts like the head of Yakushi Nyorai, for example.
Among the many outstanding exhibits is the three-faced, six-armed Ashura Statue, one of the most celebrated Buddhist statues in all of Japan.
(Unfortunately though, no pictures were allowed inside.)
Another pair of interesting buildings are the Northern and Southern Octagonal Halls.
Southern and Northern Octagonal Halls
They both originally date back over a thousand years, and their present reconstructions were completed in 1789 and 1210 respectively.
The buildings also house some of the temple’s treasured artifacts, but are only open to the public a few days a year.
Southern Octagonal Hall
This hall is temple number nine, of the Kansai 33 temples pilgrimage route.
The hall was first constructed in 813 by Fujiwara-no-Fuyutsugu.
The present building is actually a reconstruction which dates back to 1789.
Inside the hall is enshrined the Main Altar Centerpiece: Fukukensaku Kannon.
Together with the statues of the Six Patriarchs of the Hosso school.
Northern Octagonal Hall
The Northern Octagonal Hall was originally built by the Empress Genmei and the Emperor Gensho in the year 72l, to honor the first anniversary of the death of Fujiwara Fuhito.
The current building is a reconstruction which dates back to approximately 1210.
The images inside are by crafted the hand of a well known Kamakura period sculptor Unkei.
These include the Main Altar which is decorated with images of Miroku Nyorai, the Bodhisattvas Mujaku and Seshin.
Central Golden Hall
Kofukuji’s main building, the Central Golden Hall, was destroyed in a fire in 1717. Even though a replacement hall was built on a smaller scale in the 1800s – the original Central Golden Hall was not reconstructed.
In recent years, however, it was decided to rebuild the hall in its full former glory. Reconstruction works are currently ongoing and are scheduled to be completed in the year 2018.
If you look carefully, the construction site is on the extreme left in this picture.
(Behind the barriers)
The Bath House
Finally, Let’s not forget the Bath House.
This is an earthen floor bath house, rebuilt around the middle of the Muromachiperiod.
The Bath House contains two large iron cauldrons for heating water.
The building has a gable roof on the east side and a hip-gable roof on the west.
Here’re a couple more pictures taken during the day!
For the Other side of Nara, check this link out!
There were a few Yatai stalls open too!!
Now, back to where we left off started, FOOD!
We were waiting as we didn’t book a reservation beforehand.
Alright! We’re next!!
This was the menu(s).
And this is where we had our food!
We had Okonomiyaki!
Let me give you a brief description of what Okonomiyaki is.
(“while i drink my glass of water“)
Okonomiyaki can best be described as a kind of savory pancake.
Often translated as: “as you like it pancake”. Okonomiyaki contains a wide variety of ingredients.
Toppings and batters tend to vary according to region but most commonly include any combination of cabbage, meat, seafood, corn, bean sprouts, Okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, dried bonito flakes, green onion, pickled red ginger, dried seaweed powder, and tempura crumbs.
It’s awesome and one of my favourites!
There’s a lot of customization here, but they’re all really tasty & compliment each other really well.
Basically, you take some batter with cabbage tossed in, add some savory items listed above, cook on a hot surface/pan.
Then finally, top it up with your prefered fixings and sauces!
And that’s about it!!
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