Sanjunoto (Three-storey Pagoda) (三重塔)

The Sanjunoto is one of the styles of Buddhist pagoda that hold Shari (Buddha's relics) of Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. Gojunoto (five-storey pagoda) is of the same type.


The Buddhist pagoda has its roots in the stupa that began its history to worship Busshari (Buddha's relics) in ancient India during the third century B.C. A stupa in ancient India was a hemispherical mound, and its style spread to China to become multi-storey architecture taking on the style of Rokaku (pavilion). This Rokaku-style Soto (multi-layered tower) was introduced to Japan via Korean Peninsula. Many of wooden Soto remain in Japan, with few in China and the Korean Peninsula.

Local Buddhist temples and shrines have wooden Gojunoto and Sanjunoto in Japan, many of which are landmarks of their regions. Other than wood, they are also made of stone, tiles, and iron, and in the modern days there are ferroconcrete pagodas. Although multi-storey pagoda architecture also includes Nanajunoto (Seven-storey pagoda), Kujunoto (Nine-storey pagoda), and Jusanjunoto (Thirteen-storey pagoda) (mostly limited to odd numbers), wooden Nanajunoto or Kujunoto does not exist. Tanzan-jinja Shrine in Nara Prefecture has a wooden Jusanjunoto, but it is not in the Rokaku style, because its eaves of the second to the thirteenth roof are close leaving little space between them.

Compared to many Chinese Soto whose top storey one can climb up to, Japanese wooden Sanjunoto do not allow one to climb, because they are not precisely three-storey in a modern sense, but they have complicated timberworks inside supporting the eaves.

Sanjunoto of National Treasures

Hokki-ji Temple Sanjunoto: Ikaruga-cho, Ikoma-gun, Nara Prefecture; Asuka period; about 24 m tall
Yakushi-ji Temple Toto (East Pagoda): Nara City, Nara Prefecture; Nara period; about 34 m tall
Kofuku-ji Temple Sanjunoto: Nara City, Nara Prefecture; Nara period; about 19 m tall
Taima-dera Temple Toto: Katsuragi City, Nara Prefecture; Nara period
Taima-dera Temple Saito (West Pagoda): Katsuragi City, Nara Prefecture; Heian period
Joruri-ji Temple Sanjunoto: Kizugawa City, Kyoto Prefecture: Heian period
Ichijo-ji Temple Sanjunoto: Kasai City, Hyogo Prefecture; Heian period
Anraku-ji Temple Hakkaku (octagonal) Sanjunoto: Ueda City, Nagano Prefecture; Kamakura period
Daiho-ji Temple Sanjunoto: Aoki-mura, Chiisagata-gun, Nagano Prefecture; Kamakura period
Myotsu-ji Temple Sanjunoto: Obama City, Fukui Prefecture; Kamakura period
Saimyo-ji Temple Sanjunoto: Kora-cho, Inukami-gun, Shiga Prefecture; Kamakura period
Joraku-ji Temple Sanjunoto: Konan City, Shiga Prefecture; Muromachi period
Kojo-ji Temple Sanjunoto: Onomichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture; Muromachi period

[Original Japanese]