Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Ninna-Ji Temple

By Drew Baldwin

This week I decided I might write a bit about the temple I have been researching and writing about over the past few weeks. The temple is Ninna Ji, located in Kyoto Japan, the temple itself has a very interesting history spanning from the 6th century up to present day.

Like much of Asia, Buddhism was the prominent religion throughout various regions. There were different gods and deities which followers devoted their loyalty to, but all under the umbrella of Buddhism. This was true for Japan, the eastern most part of Asia. Numerous temples were built throughout the country under different dynasties and rulers. Located in the foothills of West Kyoto lies one of these Buddhist temples, Ninna-Ji. The temple is more of a campus set up consisting of several buildings/areas on the site: Niumon Gate, Tea House, Bell Tower, Omuro-Gosho, Center Gate, Golden Hall, Garden, Pagoda, Scripture House. This temple was not initially built as a temple as one might think, in fact, during the Heian period from 794-1185, many noblemen were using the grounds in the foothills to building their summer villas. Most of these noblemen were followers of the Amida sect of Buddhism and over time, once the noblemen began passing their homes were then converted to temples. This makes this temple interesting in the fact that there was not a commissioned architect(s) to design the temple, but instead it stemmed from the renovation of simple summer villas commissioned by the noblemen themselves. As a whole, the temple could have several architects, not just one, like most other major temples throughout Asia and the rest of the world. Unfortunately with this being the fact, it is very difficult to pin point the exact start and end date of the construction of the homes as that would essentially be the dates for the construction of the temple, without taking in to account the renovations to the villas into legitimate temples.

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