17 October 2011
The Shitennouji (Temple of the Four Heavenly Kings) is Japan’s oldest surviving Buddhist temple. It was built by Prince Shoutoku (574-622), one of the country’s earliest and most important converts to Buddhism. As with most such ancient structures it has been burned down and rebuilt several times.
The entrance is a torii, reflecting a time when no firm distinction was made between a Buddhist temple and a Shinto shrine.
I think this is an image of the prince.
A statue of Shinran, the founder of the New Pure Land sect.
The tallest building is a traditional Buddhist 5 story pagoda.
Inside the pagoda are some interesting murals and figures, rather primitive and presumably ancient. There was no sign forbidding picture taking so I went ahead and took some.
The building next to the pagoda has a very impressive set of murals depicting the life of the historical Buddha. Unfortunately in this case there was a sign forbidding photographs.