Chugu-ji Temple (中宮寺)
Chugu-ji Temple, next to Horyu-ji Temple in Ikaruga-cho, Ikoma County, Nara Prefecture, is noted in connection with Prince Shotoku. It belongs to the Shotoku sect. Its sango (temple's title) is Hokozan and its honzon (principal image of Buddha) is Nyoirin Kannon (the Bodhisattva of Compassion). Its Kaiki (patron of a temple in its founding) is said to be Prince Shotoku.
Origin and History
It is said that Prince Shotoku have remade the gosho (Imperial Palace) of his mother, Anahobe no hashihitohime, into a temple in 621. Chugu-ji Temple is now next to Toin (East Precinct) of Horyu-ji Temple, but it was located 500 meter east when it was originally set up. It is assumed that the temple was relocated to the current place around the end of the 16th century. In 1963, an excavational investigation was conducted in the original site of Chugu-ji Temple. What has been found out is that the temple, like Shitenno-ji Temple in Osaka, was built with the Shitenno-ji-style temple layout, in which the Kon-do Hall (main hall of a Buddhist temple) and the pagoda are arranged ahead and behind (north and south).
(the Kodo (hall), cloister, and so forth have not been researched yet.)
Chugu-ji Temple fell into a decline after the Heian Period but it has remained as a monzeki temple up to today since Jikakuin no miya assumed the first monzeki (chief nun) in the early Edo period (1602).
(A monzeki temple is a prestigious temple where members of imperial family and nobility resided for the priesthood for generations.)
Garan (Buddhist temple)
Its precinct is a borrowed land from a branch temple bordering right east of Toin of Horyu-ji Temple where Yumedono (Hall of Dreams) stood. Hondo (main hall) is a modern Japanese style architecture built in 1968 on the request of Princess Kikuko, the wife of Imperial Prince Nobuhito. Isoya YOSHIDA designed it.
Mokuzo Bosatsu Hanka Zo (the wooden statue of Bosatsu) -- Honzon (principal image of Buddha)
It is a work of the Asuka Period. It is often compared with Maitreya Bodhisattva in a semi-lotus position of Koryu-ji Temple. Its temple legend says it is Nyoirin Kannon (the Bodhisattva of Compassion), but it has been named so after the Heian Period and considered to have originally been built as Maitreya Bodhisattva in manas in a semi-lotus position. The statue is made of camphor tree timber and the oldest work using the yosegi-zukuri technique. It is simply referred to as 'Mokuzo Bosatsu Hanka Zo' (The wooden statue of Bosatsu) in the official gazette notifying that the statue was designated as a national treasure.
Tenjukoku Shucho Zanketsu(Mandala): Dyed fabric is more difficult to preserve than pottery and metal products. Although this work is a fragment of a dyed fabric, it is very precious as a relic of dyed fabrics of the Asuka Period. It is currently deposited in the Nara National Museum. A replica made in 1982 is now enshrined in Hondo. It is Mandala (or a diagram that depicts Buddhist deities according to certain geometric formats and illustrates the Buddhist world view) embroidered by Princess Tachibana no Ooiratsume with many uneme (maids-in-waiting at the court) in mourning for the Anahobe no hashihitohime, Prince Shotoku's mother and the prince. It originally consists of two works. Its name is found in "Jogu Shotoku Hooteisetsu" (Biography of Shotoku Taishi).
Important cultural properties
Paper-made Monjubosatsu ritsuzo (Standing Image of Manjusri (bodhisattva)) -- A work of the Kamakura Period
It is a papier mache statue of Buddha and the only paper-made sculpture in important cultural properties of Japan. The work is deposited in the Tokyo National Museum.
Two volumes of Shihon Bokusho Yugashiji Ron: A work in the Nara Period.
The embroidery which describes that Amitabha and Sanzon come to meet a dying person: A work in the Kamakura Period.
Wooden Uho Doji ritsuzo (Standing Image of Uho Doji): A work in the Kamakura Period.
1-1-2, Horyuji kita, Ikaruga-cho, Ikoma-gun, Nara Prefecture 636-0111
Get off at Horyuji Station of West Japan Railway Company.