Kyoto’s Phoenix Hall Reopens Following Repairs

The majestic Phoenix Hall at Byodo-in Temple in Uji, Kyoto Prefecture, was unveiled on Thursday after a year’s worth of major repairs and restoration.

The Amida-do hall, famed for its picturesque façade that is reflected in the pond in front of the hall, underwent a series of renovations, including repainting columns, replacing roof bricks and restoring its phoenix statues.

The completion of restoration work signifies the return of the “spirit” to the seated statue of Amitabha Tathagata.

“The history of Byodo-in is also a history of repairs,” Monsho Kamii, the head priest of Byodo-in, said after a special ceremony to celebrate the temple’s reopening. “However, repairs are not the objective, but are only the means to continue to protect the environment of Byodo-in centered on Phoenix Hall.”

“I believe this day marks the start of our mission to continue to protect the temple.”

A World Heritage site, the Byodo-in Temple has been a sacred place for Buddhist worship for 900 years.

The Phoenix Hall, named after an Asian mythical bird, is considered the temple’s most spectacular feature. It is the only surviving example of Heian temple architecture in Japan with a central hall, flanked by two corridors on both sides, to resemble a bird’s “wings” spread out in flight, and a “tail” corridor.

Dozens of Buddha statues enshrined in the hall are designated as national treasures. The renowed hall is commemorated on the 10 yen coin and the 10,000 yen note.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image: “Byodo-in” by Stuart Codling/Flickr

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