The Kōfuku-ji () is a Buddhist temple of the city of Nara (Préfecture of Nara, Japan). It is the family temple of the Fujiwara (, Fujiwara-shi) and the main thing of the sect Hossō-shū (). It is also called, with the Enryaku-ji (), Nanto-Hokurei (), term indicating the two most powerful temples during the era Heian: Kōfuku-ji in the South (Nanto, city of the south) and Enryaku-ji on the Mount Hiei, in North (Hokurei, top of north).
General historyIts origins go back to the district of Yamashina with Kyōto where it was founded in 669 by Kagami No Ōkimi with died of her husband Fujiwara No Kamatari and it was named Yamashina-dera. It made there install a representation of the Shaka Buddha that her late husband had ordered after his defeat against the clan Soga in 645. The temple was initially moved in Fujiwara before being installed with the permanent capital of Nara by Fujiwara No Fuhito in 710, counting then among one of the first religious establishment of the new capital.
Kōkfuku-ji burned many times, tragic destiny of many Japanese historic buildings, and in particular in 1180 at the same time as the Tōdai-ji (), during the wars which punctuated the end of the era Heian, period during which the temple had a political power dominating over the province of the Yamato. Current architectures thus date from the times Kamakura and Muromachi during which the shogunat considered the temple as governor, guard ( Shugo ,) of Yamato.
At that time, of many son noble entered in religion with Kōfuku-ji, which caused conflicts between the noble monastic foundations which were annexed there like, for example, between Ichijō-in () of the Famille Konoe (, Konoe-ke) and it Daijō-in () of the Famille Kujō (, Kujō-ke).
Contrary to Tōdai-ji which is subject to the influence of architecture Song during its rebuilding, Kōfuku-ji was restored in its initial style ( wayō ). It is in particular thanks to the 21.000 Koku () that the shogunat of the era Edo, which him returned its statute of establishment purely religious, poured each year with the temple which the restorations of the buildings were possible.
Kōfuku-ji was particularly reached by the policy anti-Buddhist of the beginning of the era Meiji. The majority of its properties were confiscated but it now tries to recover them and wishes to continue to play its part of principal temple of the Hossō sect.
- the hōkuendō () is a small octagonal house set up in the North of the principal building in 721, at the request of the empresses Gemmei and Genshō in the honor of the first birthday of the death of Fujiwara No Fuhito. The current building goes back to 1240 and was rebuilt according to the proportions of the time of Nara. It currently contains several sculptures of Unkei and it is classified National treasure.
- the pagoda on three floors (, sanjū-No-tō ) was imported since the imperial temple in 1143 on the order of the former emperor Sutoku. During its rebuilding after the fire of 1180, it profited from the improvements of the architecture of the remarkable Period Kamakura in particular by the relative interior clearness obtained thanks to the installation of windows with trellis-work or by the structure, single in its kind, of the new frame: the central pillar, decree on the second floor, is replaced by a thinner column resting on a floor supported by four other columns. All these carrying elements are decorated by many Bouddha S painted. This building is thus National treasure.
- the tō-kondō (, kondō of the East) was set up in 726 by the emperor Shōmu in the hope to obtain the cure of the former empress Genshō. After two destruction in 1017 and 1046, and two rebuildings in 1027 and 1049, it was again burnt in 1180, by the Taira. The government of Kamakura once more made it rebuild, in 1185, but he knew two more fires, in 1356 and 1411. The current building goes back to 1415 and it is classified National treasure.
- the gojū-No-tō (, pagoda on five floors) was carried out according to the wish of the empress Komyō, wife of the Shōmu emperor, and was completed in 730. This pagoda is approximately 50 meters high, which does of it one most of Japan. She was many times struck by the lightning, set fire to and destroyed (1017, 1060, 1180,1356 and 1411) but each time rebuilt (1031, 1078, 1205, 1388 and to finish 1426) in the same style “with the Japanese woman” as the tō-kondō . However, the smoothness of its elements testifies well to the Muromachi era. He is also regarded as National treasure.
- the nanendō (), also octagonal building in the South of the principal building, was founded in 813 by Fujiwara No Fuyutsugu and rebuilt in 1789. Its bronze lantern is however of time. It is opened with the public only one day per annum, on October 17th.
- the chū-kondō (, kondō central) was carried out between 710 and 714, at the request of Fujiwara No Fuhito. The current structure goes back to 1811 but suffered much is not more functional. The statues which it contained, of which certain showpieces, were moved to avoid their deterioration. They are now in an additional building in the north of the building.
- the ōyuya (, room for the bath), rebuilt during the period Muromachi (1426), contains two large iron cauldrons intended to receive warm water.
- the bodai-in ōmidō (） current goes back to 1580 but it was initially set up during the Nara era. It contains important statues of which Fukukensaku Kannnon. It is frequently evoked in the Japanese traditional tales under the name of Salle of the Thirty Bells.
- the kokuhōkan (, Museum of the National treasures) was built in 1959 to shelter the historical statues, tables, books and documents which were indicated like National treasure or which are regarded as Importante Cultural Property. Its goal is to make it possible the public to better include/understand Buddhism and to be able to appreciate the cultural Buddhist artefacts.
the Art of old Japan , Danielle and Vadime Elisseeff, Mazenod Editions, 620 p. (1980) ISBN 2-85088-010-8
- Japan: Dictionary and civilization , Louis Frederic, Editions Robert Laffont, Collection Books, 1470 p, (1999) historical ISBN 2-221-06764-9
- Dictionary of Japan , Collective, Maisonneuve Editions and Larose, Asian Collection World, 2993 p. (2002) ISBN 2-7068-1633-3
- Japanese art , Christine Schimizu, Flammarion Editions, Collection Old Funds Art, 492 p. (1998) ISBN 2-08-012251-7
the official site of Kōfuku-ji (in Japanese, possibility of having the English text)
- Small English description on the site of the prefecture of Nara
- Nippon-tabi.com: photographs of Kofuku-Ji as well as guides to manage in Japan
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