Hojo-ji Temple (法成寺)

Hojo-ji Temple was a Buddhist temple located in present-day Kamigyo-ku Ward, Kyoto City. It was founded by FUJIWARA no Michinaga and was the largest temple of the regency period. The construction of an Amida-do hall was undertaken in 1020 and completed two years later. The entire temple was destroyed by fire in 1058 and later rebuilt before being burned to the ground once again in 1219 and disappearing from history. It was also known as Kyogoku mido hall.


Hojo-ji Temple was founded by FUJIWARA no Michinaga. Michinaga, who in his last years came to admire Jodo-shinko (the Pure Land faith), vowed to construct a Nine Amida Statue hall (also known as Muryojuin). He went on to construct successive structures to create a grand temple complex that measured approximately 327m from north to south and 218m from east to west. "Eiga Monogatari" (A Tale of Flowering Fortunes) describes structures including Amida-do Hall (temple hall enshrined image of Amitabha), Kon-do Hall (main hall of a Buddhist temple), Godai-do Hall (a hall dedicated to the five guardian kings), Yakushi-do hall (temple hall enshrined image of Yakushi Nyorai), Shaka-do hall (temple hall enshrined image of Shakanyorai), Jissai-do hall (temple hall enshrined image of Buddha of the ten days of fasting), Tohokuin hall (literally, southeast hall) and Seihokuin hall (northwest hall).

Hojo-ji Temple became the model for Byodoin Temple and it is thought that facing Hojo-ji Temple from the direction of the Kamo-gawa River would have presented a sight similar to that of facing Byodoin Temple from the direction of the Uji-gawa River.

It is thought that the word 'Mido' in the title of "Mido Kanpaku-ki," believed to be Michinaga's diary, refers to Hojo-ji Temple.

Michinaga's Death

As is known from the song 'Kono yo wo ba Wagayo tozo omo Mochizuki no Kaketaru koto no nashi to omoeba' (The full moon is so perfectly round, it is as though this world is my world) ("Shoyuki" (the diary of FUJIWARA no Sanesuke)), FUJIWARA no Michinaga lived a life of luxury but as he neared the end of his life, concerns about what would happen after his death led him to enter the Buddhist priesthood in 1019 and in the following year begin work on the Muryojuin (Nine Amida Statue hall) that would be the basis of Hojo-ji Temple.

In 1027, Michinaga who was suffering from a fatal disease left Godai-do hall, crossed the east bridge to Nakajima, an island, crossed the west bridge and entered the Amida-do hall in the west. He then pulled a yarn from the hands of the nine Amida Nyorai (Amitabha Tathagata) statues to his own hands and, just like Shakyamuni's entry into Nirvana, lied down with his head to north and his eyes facing west. He passed away as chanting the nenbutsu (Buddhist invocation) and praying for entry into the western Pure Land Paradise as monks chanted sutras.


Although the entire Hojo-ji Temple complex was destroyed by a great fire in 1058, Michinaga's son FUJIWARA no Yorimichi soon rebuilt it. It was then inherited by his grandson FUJIWARA no Morozane. However, the temple complex fell into ruin during the Kamakura period. The extent of this deterioration can be estimated from the temple's use by Kenko YOSHIDA to illustrate the impermanence of the world.

After facing numerous fires throughout the years, the temple disappeared during the Kamakura period.

Current Status
All that remains now are stone monuments marking the site of Hojo-ji Temple on the roadside at Kojinguchi-dori Teramachi-dori Streets higashi-iru and at the side of a fence within the grounds of Kyoto Prefectural Oki High School.

[Original Japanese]