Kamiyodo abandoned temple (上淀廃寺跡)

The site of Kamiyodo abandoned temple is an archaeological site of an ancient temple extended over Sakurada, Hogyo and Kakisago of the Fukuoka area, Yodoe-cho, Yonago City, Tottori Prefecture. It is at the foot of the hills in the east of Yodoe Plain.


Yodoe Town Board of Education started the excavation and research in 1991. One of the oldest Buddhist wall paintings, whose antiquity is comparable to that of Horyu-ji Temple Kondo (golden hall), was excavated and it caught people's attention. The site was evaluated as one of few ruins that would be able to recover Donai Shogon (the decoration of Buddha statues and temples) of the Buddhist architectural style in the Hakuho period, and designated as a national historic site on March 29, 1996. The present designated area is 25,560㎡.

Judging from the relics such as tiles with the years carved on them, it is supposed that they were established in the latter half of Asuka period (end of the 7th century), and after the restoration in the middle of the 8th century, it burned down in the middle of Heian period (beginning of 11th century). As a result of study to date, the remains of the temple's central structure, its complex and other buildings such as a warehouse were found, but the Kodo Hall (lecture hall) has not been identified.

The site of the temple measures 212 m from east to west and 106 m from north to south, and in the middle of the complex the central structure of 53 ㎡ was located. It seems that the complex was designed to be oriented to the south, and on the east of Kondo (main hall) which was supposed to be the structure lying east and west, three pagodas were planned to be constructed in a row in a north-south direction. However, the northern pagoda's structure including its stylobate is unidentified, while its base-stone and land preparation were confirmed. The plan of these pagodas might not have been completed, but even so, there are no other ancient temples with three pagodas, or with two pagodas lying in north-south direction. The stylobate of Kondo measures 14.2 m from east to west and 12.5 m from north to south, and that of each pagoda was a 9.5 m by 9.5 m square.. The Kondo as well as the middle and southern pagodas had a double-layer stylobate with stone lines around the piled tiles, which was a style often seen in the temples in Paekche (an ancient kingdom located in southwest Korea).

The excavated relics were about 1,300 pieces of wall clay (including wall paintings), about 3,500 pieces of sozo (earthen images), tiles (including Shibi [ornamental ridge-end tile]), earthware, ironware and gilt bronze products. The sozo were found from the areas of Kondo as well as the middle and southern pagodas, while the wall paintings were found only from the Kondo area. Both wall paintings and sozo include pieces of the original structures and the structures restored at a later date. It is supposed that at the time of establishment, the principal image was an approximately 2.5 m high statue of Nyorai and at its back there was a wall painting of a kind of Mandala illustrating the Pure Land. At the time of restoration, the statue of Sanzon Triad of 4.85 m was settled in the Kondo as the principal image and its background wall was partially decorated with the paintings of larger-sized Buddhist motifs of halo and lotus pedestal.

The unearthed articles are kept and displayed in the Yonago City Yodoe Minzokushiryo-kan (museum of history and folklore) close to the site. Since 2004, the site has been maintained by Yonago City and an environmental improvement project (construction of a park at the site) has been carried out. The historic sites Mukibanda remains and Mukaiyama Tumuli are also located in the same Fukuoka area, Yodoe-cho, Yonago City.

[Original Japanese]