The temple was originally built and founded, as "Hōjūji", by Fujiwara Tamemitsu in 988. However, it was destroyed in 1032.
In 1158, Emperor Go-Shirakawa abdicated in favor of his son Emperor Nijō and made the Hōjūjiden his home, entering cloistered rule. However, in 1183, Go-Shirakawa was informed by Minamoto no Yukiie that Minamoto no Yoshinaka intended to kidnap him, form a new government to the north, and use his possession of the cloistered emperor to justify his rule. The emperor informed Minamoto no Yoshitsune and Noriyori in turn, and asked for their aid in stopping Yoshinaka. But they failed; Yoshinaka seized Kyoto in December of 1183 and attacked the palace/monastery in 1184. He set fire to the buildings, slaughtered many of the occupants, and seized the person of the emperor.
The temple has since been rebuilt, and now houses the tomb of Shirakawa II. It is also closely related to the Sanjusangen-dō.
- For an explanation of terms concerning Japanese Buddhism, Japanese Buddhist art, and Japanese Buddhist temple architecture, see the Glossary of Japanese Buddhism.
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- Turnbull, Stephen (1998). The Samurai Sourcebook. London: Cassell & Co.