The Five-story Pagoda, a National Treasure of Japan
|Location||22 Daigo Higashiōji-chō, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture|
|Affiliation||Daigo School of Shingon Buddhism|
|Deity||Yakushi Nyorai (Bhaiṣajyaguru)|
Daigo-ji (醍醐寺 Daigo-ji) is a Shingon Buddhist temple in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, Japan. Its main devotion (honzon) is Yakushi. Daigo, literally "ghee", is used figuratively to mean "crème de la crème" and is a metaphor of the most profound part of Buddhist thoughts.
After having fallen ill and abdicated in 930, Emperor Daigo entered Buddhist priesthood at this temple. As a monk, he took the Buddhist name Hō-kongō; and shortly thereafter, died at the age of 46. He was buried in the temple, which is why his posthumous name was Daigo.
Several structures, including the kondō and the five-story pagoda, are National Treasures of Japan. The temple possesses 18 specifically designated national treasures, including the buildings and other works as well; and the temple holds several dozen important cultural assets. Wall paintings at the temple were the subject of academic research which earned the Imperial Prize of the Japan Academy in 1960.
The bright colors of maple leaves attract tourists and others in the autumn season. Emperor Suzaku's mausoleum, known as Daigo no misasagi, is located near Daigo-ji.
Daigo-ji is laid out in three parts: Sambō-in, Shimo-Daigo (Lower Daigo), and Kami-Daigo (Upper Daigo). These are progressively older, wilder, and further up the mountain. Sambō-in and Shimo-Daigo are at the base of the mountain, easily accessible, and attract the most tourism; Kami-Daigo is on top of the mountain, requires a long, strenuous hike to reach, and is accordingly less visited. The streets around Sambō-in can be freely traveled, but entering Sambō-in proper, the museum, Shimo-Daigo, or Kami-Daigo all require separate admission – the first three have combined ticketing, while Kami-Daigo is separate.
Sambō-in is a collection of walled complexes, connected by streets lined with cherry blossoms. It contains the temple proper (including a noted tea garden), a museum, and other complexes, and is very lively during cherry blossom season. Shimo-Daigo is one large enclosure, containing detached halls, including the oldest surviving building in Kyoto, together with open spaces.
Kami-Daigo, other than a small cluster of buildings at the base, is located on top of the mountain. The entrance to Kami-Daigo can be reached by passing through Shimo-Daigo, or by a path beside Shimo-Daigo. There is a path with stairs up to the top, which takes about one hour to reach the main complex; halfway up there is a resting point and small shrine. At the entrance to the main complex is Daigo-Sui, a spring of holy water, which was the origin of Daigo-ji, together with other buildings. A further fifteen-minute walk reaches the summit, which contains other halls, notably the Kaisan-dō (開山堂, Founder's hall), together with expansive views of the cities below. Beyond the summit, the back of the mountain is almost completely undeveloped, primarily featuring hiking trails. There is, however, the Oku-no-in (奥之院, inner sanctum), a grotto with a few statues, reached by a twenty-minute hike along a rough trail. Due to difficulty reaching, this is rarely visited by tourists, though a temple event is held there on the first Sunday in March. Near the Oku-no-in is an outlook, the Higashi-no-nozoki (東の覗き, east lookout), which offers another view.
On August 24, 2008, the Juntei Kannon-dō at the top of the hill on the east of the temple was struck by lighting and burned down. It stood in the Kami Daigo part of the temple. Kami Daigo is Number 11 in the 33 temples of the Kansai Kannon Pilgrimage. The structure dated from 1968. This resulted in the temporary closure of the upper area (Kami Daigo-ji) for disaster restoration construction, which reopened on July 1, 2009.
- List of Buddhist temples in Kyoto
- List of National Treasures of Japan (temples)
- List of National Treasures of Japan (ancient documents)
- List of National Treasures of Japan (paintings)
- List of National Treasures of Japan (sculptures)
- List of National Treasures of Japan (writings)
- For an explanation of terms concerning Japanese Buddhism, Japanese Buddhist art, and Japanese Buddhist temple architecture, see the Glossary of Japanese Buddhism.
- Soothill, W.E.; Hodous, Lewis (1937). A Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms.
- Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1956). Kyoto: The Old Capital of Japan, 794-1869, p. 115.
- Titsingh, p. 134.
- Japan Academy, Imperial Prize, "Wall-paintings in Daigo-ji Pagoda", May 18, 1960; retrieved 2011-08-15
- Sosnoski, Daniel (1996). Introduction to Japanese Culture. Tuttle Publishing. p. 12. ISBN 0804820562.
- Main, Alison. (2002). The Lure of the Japanese Garden, p. 27.
- Guide to Daigoji Complex
- ～４．上醍醐寺＊東の覗き/醍醐寺回峯道～山ある記！ (in Japanese)
- NHKニュース 京都 醍醐寺の観音堂が全焼 Retrieved August 24, 2008
- 拝観案内 (in Japanese)
- Brown, Delmer and Ichiro Ishida, eds. (1979). [ Jien, 1221], Gukanshō; "The Future and the Past: a translation and study of the 'Gukanshō,' an interpretive history of Japan written in 1219" translated from the Japanese and edited by Delmer M. Brown & Ichirō Ishida. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-03460-0
- Ponsonby-Fane, Richard Arthur Brabazon. (1956). Kyoto: The Old Capital of Japan, 794-1869. Kyoto: The Ponsonby Memorial Society.
- Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). [Siyun-sai Rin-siyo/Hayashi Gahō, 1652]. Nipon o daï itsi ran; ou, Annales des empereurs du Japon. Paris: Oriental Translation Society of Great Britain and Ireland.
- Varley, H. Paul , ed. (1980). Kitabatake Chikafusa, 1359], Jinnō Shōtōki ("A Chronicle of Gods and Sovereigns: Jinnō Shōtōki of Kitabatake Chikafusa" translated by H. Paul Varley). New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-04940-4
Temple's official website
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