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Kōryū-ji Temple 広隆寺

Kōryū-ji Temple, Kyoto (© mtaira - Fotolia.com)
Kōryū-ji Temple

Kōryū-ji Temple, also known under the names Uzumasa-dera (太秦寺) or Kadono-dera (葛野寺), is considered to be the oldest temple in Kyōto.

Kōryū-ji is renowned for its wooden carving of Miroku Bosatsu (弥勒菩薩, Maitreya in Sanskrit ; "Buddha of the Future"), which is thought to have been a gift from the Korean court to Prince Shōtoku. As one of the most ancient antiques in Japan, the statue was one of the very first items to be registered as a National Treasure during the Meiji period. The statue of the Bodhisattva is kept preciously inside the Reihōden (Treasure Hall).

History

Kōryū-ji was founded in 603 by Hata no Kawakatsu, head of the Hata clan, to house a Buddha statue presented by Prince Shōtoku (572-621), son of Emperor Yōmei.

The temple's name has changed many times since its foundation. It has been known historically as the Hatanokimi-dera (秦公寺), Hachioka-dera (蜂岡寺) and Hōkō-ji (another reading of 蜂岡寺). The name of the Hata clan (秦) survives today in the second Chinese character for the neighbourhood, Uzumasa (太秦).

Fires in 818 and 1150 destroyed the entire temple complex, but it was rebuilt each time. Among the oldest buildings surviving to this day, the Kōdō (講堂 ; Lecture Hall) dates from 1165 and the Keigū-in (桂宮院) from 1251. The latter is a National Treasure.

Statue of the Miroku Bosatsu at Kōryū-ji Temple
Statue of the Miroku Bosatsu at Kōryū-ji

Opening Hours & Admission

The temple is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (last entry 4:30 pm). Admission costs ¥700.

How to get there

Kōryūji is an isolated temple about 3 km west of Nijō Castle and 3 km east of the Arashiyama district. The nearest station is Uzumasa Kōryūji Station, on the Keifuku Arashiyama line. The most central Keifuku station is Shijō-!miya, halfway between Nijō Castle and Nishi-Honganji Temple. The journey takes 12min (¥200).

If you are coming directly from Kyōto Station or have the Japan Rail Pass, take the JR San-in line towards Kameoka and alight at JR Uzumasa Station (14min, ¥190). The temple is 700m east, but the way is a bit complicated. Cross first to the southern side of the station, keep walking until Sanjō-dōri Avenue, follow it until Uzumasa Kōryūji Station, then turn left to the other main road, then immediately left again into a little alley. Alternatively, you can also take City Bus No 11 or Kyoto Bus No 71, 72 or 73, which all stop near Kōryūji.

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