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History of Daihou-ji Temple

During the Asuka period(AD538-710) Gokishichido(five provinces and seven circuits) was organized as poart of legal and government system. Tosando(eastern mountain circuit)  is one of Gokishichido and consisted of some provinces in the central mountain of northern Japan. Main road running through Tosando  was also called Tosando-road. Tosando-road had Umaya(station for horse) in each 16 km. Urano was one of Umaya and located in the center of Shinano(Nagano prefecture). Daihouji-temple is thought to be established as temple for Urano Umaya.

 

Since Urano Umaya was set, the area around Daihouji-temple prospered as military important place, because many horses were grown. Daihouji-temple got the center of Buddhist belief for people in the area and they presented many cultural properties such as Three-storied-pagoda to Daihouji-temple.

Daihou-ji Temple on January 1st.
Daihou-ji Temple on January 1st.

Three story pagoda

The origin of Pagoda was Stupa in ancient India. Stupa was used as commemorative monument and sacred relics could be kept safe and venerated in Stupa. The architectural structure of Stupa spread across Asia from India. Especially pagoda architecture blended Chinese towers spread into Japan.

 

Three story pagoda in Daihoj-templei was built in 1333. It is thought that some of powerful samurai donated this pagoda as symbol of their tombs. The head carpenter, who was invited from Tennouji-temple in Osaka built this pagoda on the cutting edge at that time in perfect Japanese architectural style. This pagoda uses no nail and is roofed with Japanese-cypress-bark singles. Kaerumata(wooden supports for roof) and distinctive lattice patterns also preserve pure Japanese style.

Daihou-ji Temple three story pagoda in spring.
Daihou-ji Temple three story pagoda in spring.

Juichimen Kannon (Eleven-faced Kannon)

 

Kannon(Avalokiteshvara) is goddess of mercy and compassion and one of the most popular figure in Buddhist legend. Kannon is not a Buddha but she is able to achive Nirvana but delays doing so to help suffering people. Juichimen Kannon(Eleven-faced Kannnon) has eleven additional small heads atop her own face. The many faces, eyes and ears represent variety of ways Kannon can see, hear and benefit all beings.

 

Like many other Juichmen Kannon in Japan that in Daihou-ji Temple was also carved in the Heian period and that is the oldest Buddhism figure around Ueda area. She was made from a single block of wood. The merciful expression on her face is feature of this statue.

 

Eleven faced Kannon in Daihou-ji Temple
Eleven faced Kannon in Daihou-ji Temple

Impressions