Byodo-in (平等院)

Located in a town called Uji(宇治) outside of Kyoto City, Byodo-in(平等院) is a Buddhist temple renowned for its amazing design and splendid craftsmanship. It is intended to represent perfection and bliss of the celestial realm, heaven on earth. The symmetry of the temple, intricate carvings, skilled design, preservation, and overall beauty make it truly wonderful. Byodo-in is one of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Byodo-in was built in 1052 by Fujiwara no Yorimichi(藤原頼通) at his father’s villa. Pheonix Hall(鳳凰堂) was added the following year, 1053. It contains a magnificent image of the Buddha, carved from wood, known as one of the finest Buddha sculptures in Japan and the world. It also contains murals and impressive woodwork including bodhisattvas on clouds, a halo behind the Buddha, and a double canopy above. Phoenix statues crown the rooftop peaks.

The whole temple is fairly well-preserved, though some of the original artworks and artifacts are now housed in a museum behind the temple. Amazing wooden statues of bodhisattvas worshipping on clouds(雲中供養菩薩) have been moved to the museum for preservation.

Aside from its impressive temples and shrines, Uji is known for quality tea. A few shops with tea, art, and other goods line the street leading to Byodo-in.