Byodo-ji Temple (Shimogyo-ku Ward, Kyoto City) (平等寺 (京都市下京区))

Byodo-ji Temple is a Buddhist temple belonging to the Chisan School of the Shingon Sect located in Shimogyo-ku Ward, Kyoto City. The sango (literally, "mountain name"), which is the title prefixed to the name of a Buddhist temple) is Fukujusan (Mt. Fukuju). Its principal image is Yakushi Nyorai (the Healing Buddha). It is also affectionately referred to as Inabado and Inaba Yakushi. The Kannon-do hall (housing an Eleven-faced Kannon statue) is the 27th fudasho (temples where amulets are collected) of the 33 Temples on Rakuyo (the old capital city of Kyoto) Kannon Pilgrimage. It is the 7th temple on the Kyoto 13 Buddha Pilgrimage.

History

The origin of Byodo-ji Temple is referred to in "Inabado Engi" (Legends of the Inabado) (included in "Yamashiro Meisho Shi" (Annals of Yamashiro's picturesque sites)) and "Inabado engi-emaki" (picture scroll of legends of the Inabado) (property of Tokyo National Museum). There are slight variations regarding the temple's history as described in each text, but the general account is as follows. After being made governor of Inaba Province in 997, hosho (major general) TACHIBANA no Yukihira, who was a grandson of Dainagon (chief councilor of state) TACHIBANA no Yoshifuru, fell severely ill while returning to Kyoto. One night, a Buddhist priest appeared in Yukihira's dream and said 'There is a precious piece of wood floating on Karonotsu-no-Ura Inlet in Inaba Province. This drifted here from the country of Buddhism (India) in order to save the mortals of the world.
Go and take this piece of wood.'
Yukihira gained the assistance of a Karonotsu fisherman and, on inspecting something that he saw shining in the waves, he discovered that it was a life-size statue of Yakushi Nyorai. On enshrining the statue, Yukihira's illness was cured and he was able to return to Kyoto. The Yakushi Nyorai statue was the principal image of Tohokuryo Byoin (東北療病院, literally, north-eastern hospital), one of the 49 buildings of India's Jetavana Grove. Yukihira vowed to take the statue to Kyoto and left Inaba Province behind but many years passed without him gaining the opportunity to visit Inaba Province. On May 16, 1003, someone knocked on the door of Yukihira's estate. Upon opening the door, it was the Yakushi Nyorai statue that had flown from afar to find him. Yukihira enshrined the statue at his estate in Takatsuji Karasuma. This is said to be the origin of Inaba Yakushi Byodo-ji Temple. There are historical accounts that place the year in which Yukihira found the Yakushi Nyorai statue as 959, those stating that Yukihira visited the Ichi-no-Miya (highest ranking shrine) of Inaba Province under imperial order, and those claiming that he fell ill while returning to Kyoto. According to one account, the Yakushi Nyorai statue was housed at the private Yakushi-ji Temple (Inaba Province) belonging to the powerful local Inaba clan and it was brought to Kyoto by Yukihira.

The strong influence of Buddhist temple's in Nara was resented and it was forbidden to establish any temples other than the two official temples of To-ji and Sai-ji within Heian-kyo Capital. However, it was permitted for nobles to establish their own private Buddha statue halls. This is the category into which Byodo-ji Temple falls. Town halls (Tsuji-do halls) such as Kodo Temple (Gyogan-ji Temple) were permitted. Inaba-do hall assumed this role and became worshipped at by the townspeople.

The name Byodo-ji Temple was granted by the Emperor Takakura in 1717.

Cultural Properties

Important Cultural Properties (Nationally Designated)
Wooden standing statue of Yakushi Nyorai
Wooden standing statue of Shaka Nyorai
Wooden seated statue of Nyoirin Kannon (the Bodhisattva of Compassion)

Kyogen

The Kyogen (comic storytelling tradition) entitled 'Inabado' is set at Byodo-ji Temple and has a deep connection to the tradition.

Address

728 Inabado-cho, Matsubara agaru, Akezunomon-dori, Shimogyo-ku Ward, Kyoto City