Anrakujuin Temple (安楽寿院)

Anrakujuin Temple is a Buddhist temple belonging to the Chisan school of the Shingon Sect located in Takeda, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto City. The principal image is Amida Nyorai. It does not have a sango (literally, "mountain name"), which is the title prefixed to the name of a Buddhist temple). It is a temple with a connection to the imperial family that is thought to have originated with a Buddha statue hall constructed by the Emperor Toba at the East Palace of the Toba Rikyu (Toba Imperial Villa) that stands in the south of Kyoto. The tombs of the Emperor Toba and the Emperor Konoe stand adjacent to the temple precinct.

Anrakujuin Temple and Toba Rikyu

Anrakujuin Temple is situated in Takeda, Fushimi-ku Ward in the southern outskirts of Kyoto. The entire area is the site of the former Toba Rikyu Villa that served as a center of imperial cloistered rule at the end of the Heian period (11th-12th centuries), and Anrakujuin Temple is the successor of a Buddha hall that was built within the villa. Toba Rikyu (also known as Toba-dono Palace) was constructed in 1086 to serve as a residence for the Emperor Shirakawa following his abdication. The area of Toba located in the south of the city of Heian-kyo (the ancient capital of Japan in current Kyoto) is situated where the Katsura-gawa River and the Kamo-gawa River converge and was an important center of transportation as well as being an area of natural beauty (the original route of the Kamo-gawa river lied further to the east than it is today, and Toba Rikyu was situated on the land between the Katsura-gawa River and the Kamo-gawa River). The site of the former Imperial Villa consisted of the area around present-day Kintetsu Takeda Station (Kyoto Prefecture) and the Kyoto-Minami Interchange of the Meishin Expressway, and the grounds measured approximately 1.2-1.5 km east to west and 1 km north to south and included a palace, gardens and a Buddha hall. The first palace to be built was later named the South Palace (now Toba Rikyu Park), followed by others including North Palace, Izumi Palace, Baba Palace, West Palace and Tanaka Palace, with the area serving as the hub of cloistered rule exerted by the Emperor Shirakawa, the Emperor Toba, the Emperor Goshirakawa.

Buddha statue halls were constructed at Toba Rikyu by Retired Emperor Goshirakawa and Retired Emperor Gotoba. The Buddha statue hall at South Palace, the first palace to be built, was named Shokongoin, that at Izumi Palace named Shokomyoin, that at East Palace named Anrakujuin, and that at Tanaka Palace named Kongoshinin. As the other palaces and Buddha statue halls of Toba Rikyu disappeared without a trace, Anrakujuin alone has survived until today (although the buildings was rebuilt in the early modern period).


As stated above, Anrakujuin Temple originated as a Buddha hall (principal image was Amida Nyorai) built at the East Palace of Toba Rikyu by Retired Emperor Toba and founded in 1137 (according to the Kamakura period history text "Hyakurensho"). It was originally called not Anrakujuin but simply Mi-do hall. The first written reference to the name Anrakujuin is in 1143. In 1139, two years after the founding of the Amida-do hall, a three-storey pagoda was built by Uemon no kami (Captain of the Right Division of Outer Palace Guards) FUJIWARA no Ienari. This pagoda, that later became known as Hon-mito, was constructed during the lifetime of the retired emperor (tonsured and became a cloistered emperor in 1142) to serve as his tomb following his death that came in 1156. It is assumed that the Amida Nyorai statue that currently serves as the principal image of Anrakujuin Temple was originally crafted the principal image of Hon-mito pagoda. Around 1148, another three-storey pagoda was constructed for Cloistered Emperor Toba's wife Bifukumonin and this became named Shin-mito. According to Bifukumonin's will, she was buried on Mt. Koya and Shin-mito pagoda became the burial place of the Emperor Konoe, the child of Cloistered Emperor Toba and Bifukumonin who passed away at an early age.

It is known from records that other buildings including a Nine Amida Statue hall and a Fudo-do hall stood at Anrakujuin. The Nine Amida Statue hall was built by Minbukyo (Public Affairs Minister) FUJIWARA no Kaneyori and named 'Shin -Mido' (new Mi-do hall) in order to distinguish it from the previously mentioned Amida-do hall. The nine statues of Amida Nyorai housed within were crafted by the Buddhist statue sculptor Choen in order to pray for the recovery of Cloistered Emperor Toba (according to "Hyakuren sho"). On the other hand, the Fudo-do hall was constructed by FUJIWARA no Tadazane in 1155 and housed a statue of Fudo Myoo crafted by Buddhist statue sculptor Kojo (According to TAIRA no Nobunori's diary "Heihanki"). It is assumed that the seated statue of Fudo Myoo that serves as the principal image of Fudo-in Temple on Mt. Kitamuki near Anrakujuin Temple is this Fudo Myoo statue that was crafted by Kojo.

Anrakujuin Temple was donated large manors throughout Japan and these temple estates (later inherited by Imperial Princess Akiko, the daughter of Emperor Toba, and named the Hachijoin Estate) became the financial basis of the imperial family (Daikakuji-to (imperial lineage starting with Emperor Kameyama)).

From the Middle Ages

Damage caused by fires in 1296 and 1548, and an earthquake in 1596 led to the loss of the original Buddha statue halls, the tombs of the Emperor Toba and the Emperor Konoe, and the three-storey pagodas (Hon-mito and Shin-mito). Hon-mito pagoda was first rebuilt as a temporary structure in 1612 before being reconstructed as a tile-roofing hogyo-zukuri (pyramid style temple architecture with roofing tile) Buddha statue hall in 1864. This building still stands on the western edge of Anrakujuin Temple and is under the administration of the Imperial Household Agency as the Anrakujuin Temple tomb of the Emperor Toba. In 1606, Shin-mito was rebuilt by Hideyori TOYOTOMI as tahoto pagoda style (a two-storied pagoda (composed of a square lower story and a cylindrical upper story)) that still stands at the south of the temple and is also under the administration of the Imperial Household Agency as the Anrakujuin Temple tomb of the Emperor Konoe. They are both rare examples of tahoto pagodas that serve as imperial tombs.

Of the six sub-temples that once existed, Zenshoin temple that has succeeded the temple registration. At the end of the Edo period, Anrakujuin Temple served as a headquarters during the Battle of Toba-Fushimi.


All of the structures in the precinct including Daishi-do hall, Amida-do hall, the shoin (reception hall) and kuri (monks' living quarters) date from after the middle ages. The Daishi-do housing a statue of Kobo Daishi (also known as Kukai) is larger than the Amida-do hall which enshrines the principal image.

Daishi-do hall: Constructed using the materials of the Shin-mito pagoda that was destroyed by an earthquake in 1596.

Amida-do hall: Houses the principal image seated statue of Amida Nyorai. Constructed in 1959.

Shoin and kuri: Constructed in 1795.

Five-ring pagoda: Stands in front of the nursing home to the northeast of the precinct and carries an inscription dating it at 1287.

Important Cultural Properties

Wooden seated statue of Amida Nyorai
An 87.6cm tall yosegi-zukuri style statue (constructed from multiple pieces of wood). This Buddha statue exhibits the gentle Jocho style that was popular among the imperial family and nobility at the end of the Heian period.
It has been named Manji Amida (Swastika Amida) after the swastika carved in the center of the chest
The majority of the pedestal and the center of the halo are original. This highly elaborate piece features Hosogemon (arabesque flower pattern) embossed carving on the pedestal and gold leaf that covers not only the exterior surface but also the interior cavity. An inscription within the pedestal dating repairs at 1554 has led to the estimation that the statue was crafted to serve as the three-storey pagoda (Hon-mito) erected in 1139. The sculptor is not known but it is assumed to be the work of the renowned contemporary Buddhist sculptor Kenen who created other sculptures in Toba Rikyu's other Buddha halls such as Shokomyoin.

Color on silk portrait of Fugen Bosatsu
Color on silk portrait of Kujaku Myoo
Color on silk painting of the coming of Amida and Twenty-five Attendants
Five-ring pagoda: Inscribed 1287.


3 stone Buddha statue triads
Three stone Buddha statue triads known as the Shaka Triad, Yakushi triad and Amida triad; created at the end of the Heian period. Said to have been excavated from the ruins of Jobodaiin at Toba Rikyu during the Edo period. The stone is extremely weak and the statues display extensive chipping. The Shaka triad and Yakushi triad are housed within a small structure in front of the Daishi-do hall, whereas the best preserved Amida triad has been deposited at Kyoto National Museum (installed in the museum's front garden).

Address and Access

74 Takeda Nakauchihata-cho, Fushimi-ku Ward, Kyoto City
Several minutes walk from Takeda Station on the Kintetsu Kyoto Line and Karasuma Line of Kyoto Municipal Subway. It is necessary to obtain permission in advance in order to visit.

[Original Japanese]