[Sample Translation]


Kyoto and Japanese Buddhism


Tokushi Yusho  


(4) Kyoto and its ancient temples



In the ancient capital of Nara and its suburbs, the number of Buddhist temples was more than enough, exceeding the point of saturation.  Considering that situation, the imperial government was careful about construction of temples when the capital city was transferred to Kyoto.  Two temples, named To-ji (the East Temple) and Sai-ji (the West Temple), were built symmetrically on both sides of the southern end of the main avenue, where the city gate called Rashomon stood.  They were founded as the two representative temples of Kyoto, then called Heian-kyo, which was the new capital of the nation.  No other temples were allowed to be constructed in the city.  However, there was no such restriction in suburbs, where lots of temples were built in a lapse of years.  A monk named Saicho, one of the most prominent figures in the world of Buddhism of the time, established a temple named Ichijo-shikan-in on Mt. Hiei.  Later, the temple was renamed Enryaku-ji.  On the other hand, the East Temple was given to Kukai, another conspicuous monk of the time.  He renamed it Kyo-o-gokoku-ji.  Saicho introduced the Tiantai Buddhism from China and founded the Tendai school, which developed at Enryaku-ji as its headquarters.  Kukai brought the tantric Buddhism from China and created the Shingon school.  It developed at the East Temple as its center.  The two schools were so firmly founded that, in some time, they built fundamentals to confront the six schools in Nara.  In Kyoto, when a new temple was built, it had to belong to these two schools.  The old schools in Nara had no chance to move in this new capital of Kyoto.



In the Heian period, the nature of imperial wishes for founding Buddhist temples was a bit different from those in the Nara period.  In the Nara period, in most cases, emperors built temples as a project for the nation.  On the other hand, it seems an increasing number of temples had the nature of a tutelary temple for a specific clan or of a mausoleum.  When the imperial court forbade constructing private temples, some existing or new temples planned as a private one changed their status.  After that, they were officially able to obtain a financial aid from the government and were administered.  Kasho-ji, which was built on the wish of Emperor Montoku, was the former residence pavilion of his father, Emperor Ninmyo, transferred and reconstructed into a Buddhist temple at Fukakusa, a suburb of Kyoto.  It was for a filial piety for his deceased father that the emperor built such a temple near his mausoleum on the death of the former emperor, who deeply believed in Buddhism.  In other cases, too, it appears that not a few temples were built by emperors or empresses for praying for the repose of the soul of the deceased.  As for the temple Enkaku-ji, it was renovated from the house where the retired Emperor Seiwa died.  From the early Heian period, a considerable number of temples may have been founded for similar reasons, but it was actually based on the theory of embracing by Lotus Sutra, which was an essential part of the Tendai doctrine.  According to this theory, onefs daily life will be integrated into the supreme enlightenment through the single vehicle of Lotus Sutra.  With expansion of the Tendai school, this philosophy dominated the peoplefs mind.  Many rolled sutras transcribed in the Heian period were related with such thinking.  People transcribed sutras on the gray paper, which was remade from letters by the deceased.  When the letters were in hiragana, they transcribed sutras directly on them.  Such transcriptions were based on this thinking.  In the same way, sutras were transcribed on the genre picture shaped like a hand fan.  Under the sutras, genre pictures, depicting daily lives, were preferred to landscapes for the same reason.


Through the Heian period, the Japanese Buddhist circles were in conflict between the seven great temples in Nara, the city of the religion, and a number of Tendai and Shingon temples in Kyoto.  Such famous temples of the Tendai school included Enryaku-ji, Onjo-ji, Gankei-ji and Hossho-ji.  As for the Shingon school, it was represented by the East Temple, Daikaku-ji, Ninna-ji and Daigo-ji.  At the eastside of the East Temple, the monk Kukai founded an open college named Shukei-shuchi-in, which taught different arts, not just Buddhist studies.  However, he did not have a good successor to continue the school.  The monk Saicho was also a dedicated educator for his disciples.  He prepared rules for trainee monks, encouraged them to study for 12 years in the mountain.  His successors, such as Ennin, Enchin and Ryogen, were great scholars, too.  As a grand center of learning, the temple Enryaku-ji produced lots of intellectuals.  Compared with those of the Tendai, the Shingon school did not have sufficient learning facilities.  In the Shingon school, not a few monks visited temples in Nara to learn the basics of Buddhism.  In the Heian period, the esoteric Buddhism was in the heyday of prosperity.  Not just the Shingon school, but also the Tendai or schools in Nara went esoteric, holding lots of ceremonies, rituals and services.  Diaries in the Heian period mention a lot of Shinto or Buddhist services, which were a part of the annual events.  In addition to the regular ceremonies in large temples, there were provisional services which were held as public affairs, where members of imperial and noble families attended in formal costumes.  Some old picture scrolls show such scenes.  Not a few Buddhist services, as public affairs, were found or listed in the annual event screens of the imperial residence in Kyoto or in the code of regulations of that time.  In and out of Kyoto, many people, men or women, noble or menial, gathered at various temples for ceremonies, which I believe enriched their urban life. [c]



Basically, emperors directly ruled the country in the Heian period, but the head of the Fujiwara clan, such as Fujiwara Mototsune or Fujiwara Tadahira, assisted the imperial government as a regent or a chief advisor.  People of the other clans had no chance to take an important position.  Therefore, the middle Heian period is known as the Fujiwara period.  From the end of the 10th century, great temples in and out of Kyoto showed the sign of prosperity of the Fujiwara family.  Such temples as Hoko-in (the former mansion of Fujiwara Kaneie), Hoju-ji (founded by Fujiwara Tamemitsu), Jomyo-ji and Hojo-ji (founded by Fujiwara Michinaga), Hokai-ji (founded by Fujiwara Sukenari) and Byodo-in (founded by Fujiwara Yorimichi) were constructed in a large scale with a presumably huge amount of expenses.  For most of the temples, we can only imagine them from ancient documents, but in Kyoto suburbs there remains a part of the buildings and the statues of them.  When you visit Byodo-in at Uji or Hokai-ji at Hino, you can better imagine the other temples above, which was known with fame at that time.  People loved gaudiness and gorgeousness in everything.  Even wooden idols of Buddha were coated with gold leaves to have metallic luster, or sometimes colored with various paints.  The esoteric Buddhism, then in fashion, needed various idols of worship, but it was quite difficult to sculpture everything.  Accordingly, lots of pictures were made and used.  Some were drawings of thin black lines just for depicting images, but needless to say, more commonly they were gorgeously colored.  Such pictures may have been an origin of the colored statues.  Interior decorations of the temples were also deeply colored.  Apart from the murals, such patterns as arabesque or vignettes were painted on the doors, ceilings and beams.  The ceiling of Byodo-in was decorated with inlaid mother-of-pearl.  In this period, the luxurious life of the noble, such as the Fujiwara clan, was reflected in their temples.  It seems that famous temples were regarded as a villa of the noble.  The temple Byodo-in was a renovation from the villa on the scenic spot on the riverside, but it was not open to the public even after it became a temple.  There must not have been much difference if it was a villa or a temple.  As for the art and craft in this period, it was originated from China, but such influences were well digested into the style of Japan.  Compared with surviving works of the Tang Dynasty, I think ours are superior to them.  Especially after the end of the 9th century, when Japan abolished the envoy to Tang Dynasty China, there was a remarkable progress in the arts of Japanese style, such as Japanese calligraphic art or Yamato-e painting.


Apart from the great temples by the Fujiwara clan, the imperial court founded six famous temples called gRikusho-ji,h including Hossho-ji and five others.  It is said that Hossho-ji, founded by Emperor Shirakawa, had a consecration service in 1077.  When Ensho-ji was founded by Emperor Konoe in 1149, there had been six temples founded in 72 years.  They were all located at Okazaki in Kyoto.  People called them gRiku(six)sho-ji,h since the names of the six temples included gsho,h as Hossho-ji, Sonsho-ji, Saisho-ji, Ensho-ji, Seisho-ji and Ensho-ji.  The head of the six temples was Prince Kakuho (son of Emperor Shirakawa) and, later, Prince Doho (son of Emperor Go-shirakawa).  It seems that the foundation of these temples, headed by the priest prince, shows the trends of the cloistered government ruled by the retired emperor.  The compiled diaries of the nobles (Hyakurensho) mentions the retired Emperor Shirakawafs visit to Hossho-ji in July 13, 1103 and expresses an extraordianry admiration for his dedicating to the temple the complete Buddhist scriptures transcribed with gold ink on the deep blue paper.  Again, on May 11, 1110, the same book mentions his visit to Hossho-ji and dedication of the complete Buddhist scriptures with gold ink.  It says he began to transcribe them before retiring.  Those scriptures were lost, but we can imagine how they looked from the surviving works at such temples as Jingo-ji in Kyoto or Chuson-ji in Hiraizumi.


Already in the Nara period, there was a Buddhist scripture transcribed in gold ink.  However, it became very popular and was often made in the age of the cloistered government.  According to the written prayer of the time, in addition to normal transcription of Buddhist scriptures, a small number of copies were made in gold ink.  It was not very rare that the complete Buddhist scriptures were transcribed in gold ink.  Apart from the ascetic practice, such as transcription, by the emperor himself, such fashion shows that people were not satisfied any more with simple transcriptions as in the Nara period.  Presumably this is the reason for such luxurious scriptures as the sutras dedicated by the Heike clan to the Itsukushima shrine, or the sutras on the genre pictures shaped like a hand fan at the temple Shitenno-ji.


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