Ujidera (氏寺)

Ujidera (Clan Temples) were Buddhist temples which were constructed by powerful clans during the Asuka period as replacements for kofun (tumuli).

Typical examples include Horyu-ji Temple (Ikaruga-dera Temple) established by Prince Shotoku, Asuka-dera Temple established by the Soga clan and Koryu-ji Temple established by the Hata clan.

Ujidera underwent a change during the middle ages when Buddhism diffused down through aristocratic society and the samurai class to develop from being the sole preserve of the imperial family and powerful families to become a religion of the common people. The term came to refer not only to temples established for the worship and memorial services of clans but also to temples established by the families that comprised clans (there was no term for 'family temple') and took on the role of conducting the Buddhist rites of clans and families.

These temples not only served a religious role, as ujidera emerged that also conducted manor management duties for the continuation and growth of the temple as well as providing financial assistance and advice to the clans or families that owned them. Great attention has been paid to the development of ujidera during the middle ages as they aimed to make a transition from being the recipients of one-sided protection and assistance to achieve self-sustaining development while maintaining close relationships with clans and families.

[Original Japanese]