Miyanomae Haiji Ato (宮の前廃寺跡)

Miyanomae Haiji ato is the remains of Buddhist temple that stood from the Nara era to Heian era located in Zao-cho, Fukuyama City, Hiroshima Prefecture. It is designated as a national historic site.

Summary

Miyanomae Haiji ato is now located in the middle of a south-facing hill on which the local Zao Hachiman Jinja Shrine stands. It is situated to the side of the path leading to the shrine. According to excavations conducted in 1950 and 1967, it was a Buddhist temple complex in the Hokki-ji-style, which included a tower in the east and a kon-do hall (main hall) in the west. It was ascertained that the remains of the tower (it is unknown how many layers the tower had) were 12.7m each side, 1.2m high, and the remains of the kon-do hall were 24.9m from east to west and 14m from north to south. Several kinds of Nara and Heian period eaves end tiles as well as channel tiles, plane tiles and senbutsu (Japanese Buddhist images in relief on unglazed clay tiles) inscribed with characters such as 'Ki no omi Wako no Musume' and 'Kurisu no Kimi' have been excavated. There is now a path between the remains of the tower and the remains of the kon-do hall, and as the remains had been well-preserved the area was designated a national historic site in 1969.

History

As its name suggests, Miyanomae Haiji is no longer used as a Buddhist temple, and it is located in the precinct of the shrine. It is said that it used to be a temple called Kaizo-ji Temple, and is thought to have been built near a settlement mentioned in a literary work such as 'Fukatsu City' recorded in "Nihon genho zenaku ryoiki" (set of three books of Buddhist stories, written in the late 8th and early 9th century, usually refer to as the Nihon ryoiki) or 'Fukatsuso' recorded in "Horyu-ji Garan Engi narabini Ruki Shizai Cho" (note of origin and materials of Horyu-ji Temple). It is considered that in this place, there was a port on Fukatsu Bay coast (the place was called 'Fukatsu Province' until early-modern times) which prospered as an outer harbor of the Kokufu (ancient provincial office/capital) in Bingo Province, and they are valuable ruins of the Ritsuryo era.