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Onjoji, commonly known as Miidera, in Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture, is said to be the Temple of Phoenix.

Onjoji dates back to the 7th century.  It is one of the most prestigious Buddhist temples in Japan.  In the literary books in the Heian Period (the 8th-12th century) of Japan, if you find the word of TEMPLE, it refers to this temple, whilst the word of YAMA refers to Enryakuji Temple on Mt. Hiei. 

*Enryakuji is called the mother temple of Japan’s Buddhism, because many leading Buddhist monks who founded several major sects of Japan practiced asceticism here in the 12th-13th century. 

From the 10th century on, a dispute over the superiority had become acute between these two temples, and Onjoji was repeatedly set fire by the monk soldiers of Enryakuji.  In the 15th century, thereafter, this temple was deprived of its fief and assets by the then political authority.

However, it came back from the critical condition each time thanks to the help of pious believers.  Hence, it became to be called the Temple of Phoenix. 

The first photo shows the Kondo main hall which is designated as a national treasure.  This was donated from Kodaiin, the wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi a samurai ruler, in 1559.  The building in the second photo is Niomon gate being on the list of important cultural assets. This was originally built for another temple in 1462, and was relocated here by Tokugawa Ieyasu the first shogun in Edo, in 1601. The three-storied pagoda in the third photo, which is designated as an important cultural asset, was originally built for a different temple in the 14th century, and was moved to this location in 1601 also by Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Licensed tour guide, travel consultant,

Masahisa Takaki.

全国通訳案内士 高木聖久。

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