Hoko-ji Temple (方広寺)

Hoko-ji Temple is a temple belonging to the Sanmon school of the Tendai Sect located in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City.


Hoko-ji Temple is a temple belonging to the Sanmon school of the Tendai Sect and was built by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI. It is devoted to Dainichi Nyorai and Daikokuten. The construction of the Great Buddha hall modelled after Todai-ji Temple in Nara was initiated by Hideyoshi in 1586 and completed in 1595. At 18 meters in height, it is said to have been larger than the Great Buddha of Todai-ji Temple. Some of the nails used were salvaged from weapons confiscated in the Sword Hunt. However, the temple was destroyed by an earthquake in 1596.

It was later rebuilt by Hideyori TOYOTOMI but was burnt to the ground in a fire caused by lightning in 1798 and was never again rebuilt on the same scale (please refer to the article entitled 'Great Buddha statues in Kyoto' for the course of events leading up to the destruction of the Great Buddha and the Great Buddha hall).

The temple bell of the Toyotomi clan had survived, but Ieyasu got angry at the inscription 'State's Peace and Health' (Kokka Anko) and 'Sovereign and subjects' Wealth and Pleasant' (Kunshin Horaku) engraved on the bell (the work of Bunei Seikan, a Zen priest of Nanzen-ji Temple in Kyoto), which he considered to proclaim TOYOTOMI as a monarch, and it is believed that he used this as a motive to destroy the Toyotomi clan (there is also the theory that Ieyasu simply wanted to create an excuse to initiate the Siege of Osaka). This bell has been designated an Important Cultural Property and is considered to be one of the three great bells of Japan along with those of Todai-ji Temple and Chion-in Temple.

Excavations conducted in 2000 established that the Great Buddha hall measured approximately 55 meters from east-to-west and 90 meters from north-to-south. This area is now a park.

Kokka Anko Bell: Cast in 1614 in Kama-za in Sanjo, Kyoto by Nagoya Sansho. It measures 4.2 meters in height and 2.8 meters around the outside, is 0.27 meters thick and weighs 82.7 tonnes. The previously described inscription is on the upper left of the bell's pedestal.

Principal image statue of a seated Rushanabutsu: A 1/10 scale wooden bust replica of the former Great Buddha statue destroyed by fire during the Edo period was donated, but was itself destroyed by fire in 1973
(caused by the embers in the brazier used in the temple). A part of the Great Buddha's pedestal has survived. The remains of the Great Buddha hall consist of the round metal frames of the pillars and the wind bell that hung from the edge of the roof eaves.

Statue of Daikokuten: Said to have been carved by Saicho (Dengyo Daishi) after he experienced a revelation as he ascended Mt. Hiei to establish Enryaku-ji Temple under the Imperial command of Emperor Kanmu. The statue is housed within the Daikuten-do hall along with a 1/10 size copy that is said to have been made by Hideyoshi who was particularly fond of this image.

[Original Japanese]