Assorted Temples

This page has two detailed sections on Katsuoji (Osaka’s Mino Mountain) and
the Yokohama Chinatown Kanteibyo Temple, plus a number of precious tidbits
from temples encountered here and there of which I only have a few images.


Ryozen Kannon
Daiunin Gionkaku

Chion-in Sanmon
Nanzenji Sanmon
Rinnoji (Nikko)
Kofukuji Gojunoto
Ueno Bentendo


Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.


There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
Assorted Temples are in the following Gallery (Direct Link)

Japan: Shitennoji & Assorted Temples
Shitennoji, Katsuoji, Kofukuji Gojunoto,
Nanzenji Sanmon, Chion-in Sanmon,
Ryozen Kannon, Ueno Bentendo, Kanteibyo



Katsuoji Temple is on Mino Mountain, near Osaka. This mountain is the home of the famous Mino Monkeys (you’ll see several on the Scenery  page). Founded in 727 by twin brothers (priests) who built a hut on the site. 38 years later, they were joined by Prince Kaisei (Emperor Konin’s son) for training in Buddhism. Prince Kaisei built a temple on the site (to replace the hut).

Later, in 780, a priest named Myokan, (reputedly an incarnation of Kannon), brought 18 children to Mirokuji. They carved a sandalwood statue of Senju-Kannon between the 18th of July and 18th of August (beginning the tradition of dedicating the 18th of each month to Kannon). Then, in the 9th century, Emperor Seiwa got sick. In those days, the cure for a sick Emperor was prayer, but no prayers at the Imperial Court helped. Then they asked Gyojun (6th priest) to pray for the Emperor, and he recovered.

The Emperor  was understandably pleased, and allowed the temple to change their name to Katsuoji. Katsu means “Win”; the O used to be Ou,  meaning Emperor (but the humble priests exchanged the Ou for O, meaning  ”tail”; the Ji means Temple. So... Katsuoji is the Winning Tail Temple.


Katsuoji Torii 0073

A view through a line of Torii gates to the pond and its little shrine.
(note the Daruma dolls on the Torii crossbar and elsewhere)


Katsuoji Ishidoro 0074

A veritable ocean of stone lanterns (ishidoro).

Katsuoji is known for its sea of Daruma dolls...
(Daruma is the Japanese name for the Indian Monk
Bodhidharma, who first brought Buddhism to Japan).
The dolls’ unique shape (some are entirely spherical)
is because it is said that Dharma meditated so long
that his arms and legs fell off. These little guys are
literally everywhere around the temple, on nearly
 any horizontal surface, often in unusual places.

People buy the Daruma dolls in the hope to win
their wish (tests, etc.). If the wish is fulfilled, the doll
will be returned to the temple... placed somewhere.
Some people are very creative in their placement.


Katsuoji Ishidoro Dharma detail 0142


Katsuoji Dharma 0086

Just in case you wanted a close look.
You’re sure to be able to recognize them...


Katsuoji Dharma 0112

There are those Daruma dolls again.
The little beasts are everywhere...


Katsuoji Hondo Dharma 0102

A veritable army of the little fellows are standing watch
on the railings outside of the Hondo (main hall). I shot the
other side of this railing too, and planned on posting the
two parts together, but I was able to restrain myself
(at least while preparing images for this page)

I did put them together for two composites
 (Katsuoji SXXL and Katsuoji XXL).

The composites are only displayed in the
Photoshelter Japan Composites Gallery

Direct Link to Katsuoji XXL (7 images)
Direct Link to Katsuoji SXXL (10 images)


Katsuoji Hondo Dharma 0108


Katsuoji Hondo Roof Detail 0110


Katsuoji Binzurusonja 0115

Binzuru Sonja (Binzuru, or Pindola) was one of the four Arhats asked by Buddha to remain
in the world to propagate Buddhist Law. Each was associated with a compass direction.
In Japan, the most popular is Pindola (called Binzuru or Binzuru Sonja), who is said to
have excelled in occult and psychic powers and was once scolded by Buddha for
using these powers to impress people. He is renowned for his healing powers.
People rub his body where they have pain for him to absorb it and cure them.

Of course, there are Daruma dolls standing by to offer their assistance too.


Katsuoji Bronze Lantern 0121

An absolutely superb bronze lantern at the Katsuoji Hondo.

Note the left-facing swastika, which is also on all of the ends of the Hondo roof tiles.
The swastika is derived from an ancient Sanskrit term meaning any lucky or auspicious
object, and marks to denote good luck (su = good and asti = to be, thus svasti = well-being).
The Buddhist sign has been standardized as the Chinese character wan, a left-facing swastika.
The swastika has been used as a symbol since the Neolithic period (in Europe, since at least
the 5th-6th millenium BC), and in India, since the early Bronze Age. It is a historically sacred
religious symbol in Indian religions. The Buddhist swastika travelled with the religion to
Tibet and China, and came to Japan from China with the introduction of Buddhism.


Katsuoji Stone Gojunoto 0125

Gojunoto = five story pagoda

The finial atop this stone pagoda is similar
to that of a stupa (see Hokaiji and Kinkakuji).
Stupas are Buddhist religious monuments.
The stupa evolved into the pagoda as
Buddhism spread through Asia.


Katsuoji Senju-Kannon 0129

Senju-Kannon (1000-armed Kannon). One of Japan’s
 most beloved esoteric forms of Kannon. Japan has the
  oldest existent sculptures of Senju-Kannon (8th c.).

As it is difficult to create a statue with 1000 arms,
they are generally portrayed with 42 arms. Two are
in a mudra, or in this case, palms together, and each
of the other 40 represent the 25 Buddhist worlds.


Katsuoji Incense Oni 0120

In Japan, Oni (trolls) are used to hold up all sorts of things... from heavy bronze incense holders
(see this image from Nikko) to the oldest wooden building in the world (the Horyuji Kondo and Kondo Oni).

Oni are creatures from Japanese folklore, and can be represented as demons, ogres or trolls.


Katsuoji Kannon 0093

The Mizuko Kannon stands in front of the Benten pond
(fed by a small waterfall), in front of the Tahoto shown below.


Katsuoji Kannon 0097

Mizuko Kannon is patron of children lost to miscarriage,
stillbirth, abortion and untimely death (Mizuko Kuyo Kannon).


Katsuoji Kannon 0093


Katsuoji Tahoto 0087

A tahoto is an unusual two story pagoda. The
ground floor is a square with a dome, and the
upper story is circular with a square roof. These
evolved from the Hoto (a bronze Hoto houses
the tomb of Tokugawa Ieyasu at Nikko).


Katsuoji Tahoto 0088

During the Battle of Ichi-no-Tani (Genpei War,
Minamoto no Yoshitsune and his arch-enemies,
the Taira) in 1184, part of the battle spilled over
into and destroyed part of Katsuoji. The Tahoto
dates from the reconstruction after the battle.


Katsuoji Tahoto 0088 detail

A 1500 x 1000 crop from the master of the previous image showing
architectural detail of the Tahoto’s circular second level and roof.

The Tahoto is found primarily at Japanese Esoteric Shingon and Tendai Buddhist Temples.

The name derives from Taho Nyorai, the Abundant Treasures Buddha. Few have
been built since the end of the Heian period. The current Katsuoji Tahoto
was rebuilt in 1931, and it was recently restored in 1987.


Katsuoji Mini Shrine 0144

The Hokora (miniature shrine) in the middle of Katsuoji’s pond.
This may be one of Japan’s smallest complete shrines
(it even has its own Koma-inu and torii gates).

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.


There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
Assorted Temples are in the following Gallery (Direct Link)

Japan: Shitennoji & Assorted Temples
Shitennoji, Katsuoji, Kofukuji Gojunoto,
Nanzenji Sanmon, Chion-in Sanmon,
Ryozen Kannon, Ueno Bentendo, Kanteibyo



Yokohama Kanteibyo (Guan di Miao) was founded in 1862 when a Chinese immigrant
brought a sculpture of Guan Gong from China and enshrined it in a small temple. This small
temple attracted fellow immigrants, and soon it was a major focus of the entire community of
Yokohama Chinatown. By 1871 it was a major landmark. It was destroyed by the Kanto
Earthquake in 1923, and damaged in the 1945 air strikes. It was hit by lightning in
1981 and caught fire, and in 1986 another fire engulfed the temple. Each time
it was rebuilt by the Chinatown community in more magnificent fashion.


Kanteibyo Entrance detail 7726


Kanteibyo Temple 7730

There are a number of these temples in Japan (for instance, another is in Kobe),
and they attract Chinese visitors and immigrants. The temple is gaudy (maybe a little),
but the Chinese like it that way. I’ve taken detail shots of the dragons, fish and other figures
on the roof, as well as detail shots under the eaves and shots of the interior including Guan Yu.


Kanteibyo Arch Detail 7683

Detail of the center of the Goodwill Gate down the street.
“Get along with your neighbor Nations”


Kanteibyo Gate Detail 7733

Detail of the center of the Entrance Gate.
“Kanteibyo, Yokohama, an auspicious day 1990”


Kanteibyo Temple
Roof detail Left 7735


Kanteibyo Temple
Entrance Gate detail Right 7737


Kanteibyo Temple
Upper Roof detail Left Rear 7742


Kanteibyo Temple
Upper Roof detail Dragon 7741


Kanteibyo Temple
Upper Roof detail Left 7736


Kanteibyo Temple
Upper Roof detail Right 7738

7742, 7736 and 7738 show what looks to be a Chinese version of a Shachihoko...
on the corner of each is a fish with the head of a dragon. Quite interesting.


Kanteibyo Temple Upper Roof detail 7736 7738
(Composite will open in a second window)

Available as an SXL Composite (4444 x 1740)


Kanteibyo Temple 7748

A detail shot under the eaves.


Kanteibyo Temple Entrance Gate detail 7743c


Kanteibyo Temple Entrance Gate detail 7744c

These are two detail crops from the entrance gate,
depicting some of the fine detail. There is so much
going on in the decoration of this gate and the
temple facade that it is best to take it in a
little at a time. I am providing these two
detail crops without watermarks.

The two crops show the corner detail of
the gate, the image on the left shows
the right corner, the image above
is an oblique of the left corner
(from two different angles).


Kanteibyo Temple Interior 7760

Guan Yu flanked by his son Guan Ping and his assistant Zhou Cang.

Guan Yu has had his true life adventures fictionalized in novels, e.g. the
historical novel “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”. He is respected as
the epitome of loyalty and righteousness. Small shrines to Guan Yu are
everywhere in China (especially in restaurants and traditional shops) and
he is revered today among many Chinese, especially in Southern China.


Kanteibyo Temple Guan Yu 7758c

Guan Gong (Guan Yu) was a general serving under the warlord Liu Bei
near the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty in China (died 219 AD). He was
deified as early as the 6th c. and is considered to be the epitome of loyalty and
righteousness. He is typically portrayed as a red-faced warrior with a long heavy beard
(his red face seems to have come from a description in “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”).

He was elevated to the status of Emperor in the Ming dynasty, thus he is Emperor Guan Yu.


Kanteibyo Temple Koma-inu Family 7747-46
(Composite will open in a second window)

Available as an XL Composite (3275 x 2464)

Koma-inu (Lion dogs) guard the entrance.
This is the only time I have ever seen a baby Koma-Inu.
Based upon some research it seems that this is a unique representation.

Return to the top of this page


Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.


There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
Assorted Temples are in the following Gallery (Direct Link)

Japan: Shitennoji & Assorted Temples
Shitennoji, Katsuoji, Kofukuji Gojunoto,
Nanzenji Sanmon, Chion-in Sanmon,
Ryozen Kannon, Ueno Bentendo, Kanteibyo


Miscellaneous Temples

Ryozen Kannon

A 24 meter seated statue of Byakue Kannon (White Robed Kannon), Ryozen Kannon was
made with 500 tons of concrete on a steel-rod frame in 1955. Just off the Philosopher’s Path
in Kyoto, it commemorates the soldiers who died in World War II and prays for a peaceful Japan.


Ryozen Kannon 9602

Seen peeking over the copper-clad wall, framed in sakura.

Sitting at the foot of the Higashiyama (eastern mountains)
it is 80 feet tall and was designed by Choun Yamazaki.


Ryozen Kannon 9606



Chukon-do Kodaiji 9608

Just outside the walls of the Ryozen Kannon, on the
path we took to our ryokan near Maruyama Park, is the
Kodaiji Temple. Near the entrance was Chukon-do.

Chukon-do was built in 1908 to commemorate the lives of
the soldiers who died in the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95)
and the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905). In 2005, it was
moved from Kodaiji to Shobo-ji in Kyoto because Kodaiji
needed to expand their parking lot, and it was decided to move it rather than destroy it (many people petitioned).

Chu = Loyal     Kon = Soul     Do = Hall

Shobo-ji is a temple of the Shingon Toji
sect and a Jodo-shu (Pure Land sect)
monastery located in western Kyoto.


Chukon-do Kodaiji 9609


Goryo Eji Emperor Komei Tomb Guards 9613

The Shinsengumi were a special police force during the latter Tokugawa Shogunate. It is a tragic story about the period which was detailed in the film “The Last Samurai”. After Commodore Perry’s ships entered Yokohama Bay in 1853, a number of events occurred between the factions loyal to the Tokugawa Shogunate and those factions who supported the Emperor. This eventually led to the Meiji Restoration.

The Kodaiji Gesshinin Temple was used as a base for a group of passionate Imperial loyalists for half a year, from June to November, 1867. They were led by Kashitaro Ito, who was born in what is now Ibaraki Prefecture, and excelled in academics and the sword, becoming known as a master of the Kokushin Ittoryu (famous sword style party). He moved from Edo to Kyoto, and joined the Shinsengumi as a military advisor, but later split from them and formed his own group, the Guardians of the Imperial Tomb, as Emperor Komei had recently died (1867). Although it was a rule that nobody could leave the Shinsengumi, it was allowed but they inserted a spy, who reported that Ito was planning an assassination.

On November the 18th, Ito accepted an invitation to come drinking from the leader of the Shinsengumi, and on his way home he was assassinated by Shinsengumi members who were lying in ambush. Seven of his comrades, who came to take his body, were attacked by 40 Shinsengumi members in the Incident at Aburano Koji. Three Goryo Eji were killed and the surviving four members of the Goryo Eji escaped into a nearby Satsuma domain residence and later fought against the Tokugawa Shogunate under Satsuma during the Boshin War (1868-69) which established the Meiji Restoration.


Daiunin Gionkaku 9614

Gion Tower at Daiunin Temple

Between Kodaiji and Maruyama park are many sights, (some are shown on the Kyoto Scenics page). Above is the Daiunin Gion Tower, just beyond Kodaiji. Built by Kihachiro Okura who established Japan’s first private museum, it is dedicated to Oda Nobunaga (one of three great unifiers of Japan) and his son who were forced to commit seppuku after being betrayed by General Akechi. Nearby is the site of Ishikawa Goemon’s grave, a Japanese “Robin Hood”, who was boiled in oil after a failed assassination attempt on Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1594.



Chion-in 9625

Chionin is the head temple of the Jodo (Pure Land) sect of Buddhism, founded by Honen in 1175, which has millions of followers and is one of the most popular Buddhist sects in Japan. Located in Maruyama Park, Chion-in was founded in 1234 on the site where priest Honen fasted to death in 1212.

It has the largest Sanmon gate existing in Japan (below).

Many buildings in the huge compound were burned down in 1633, but were rebuilt by the 3rd Tokugawa Shogun Iemitsu.

The gate shown above is the Kurumon (black gate), a smaller entrance to the temple grounds left of the Sanmon (below).

You may think from the image below that I found a moment when Chion-in was not swarmed with a horde of people, but in reality it nearly always is fairly crowded... the popularity of Pure Land Buddhism and the novelty of the massive gate, plus the location in Kyoto‘s favorite park is an equation resulting in massive crowds. I just waited for a momentary gap in the herd and shot over the heads of those in front of me on the lower steps. We were thoroughly ‘templed-out’ and did not go in to Chion-in, unfortunately missing the massive bell and a number of other interesting sights. Too many temples...


Chion-in Sanmon 9621

The Sanmon Gate, Chion-in's main entrance, is beside the road between Maruyama Park and Shorenin Temple.
Standing 24 meters tall and 50 meters wide, it is the largest wooden gate in Japan and dates back to 1619,
when it was erected by Hidetada Tokugawa (the second Tokugawa Shogun). It has 70,000 roof tiles.


Nanzenji Sanmon 9696

After a long day walking all around Kyoto, I came to the end of the Philosopher’s Path
on my way back to Gion and saw this enormous Sanmon Gate to Nanzenji. I was completely
“templed-out” at the time, but saw a beautiful Sakura tree through the gate and went in to get a shot.
The gate itself is quite spectacular. Originally built in 1296 (the temple was founded in 1291 on
the grounds of the Emperor Kameyama’s palace), the Sanmon was destroyed in the fire of
1447 and was not rebuilt until 1626, when Todo Takatora, a general of Tokugawa Ieyasu,
rebuilt the gate in memory of those who died at the Battle of Osaka Castle in 1615.

It is one of Kyoto’s three Daimon (most prominent gates).

By the way, Ishikawa Goemon (Japan’s Robin Hood, described above under Daiunin Gionkaku)
was supposedly hiding inside this gate until his capture, after which he and his son were boiled in oil.
This gruesome tale is an unlikely legend, as the gate was not rebuilt until 1628 (Ishikawa died in 1594).


Nanzenji Sakura 9698

The Sakura that drew me in to the Temple, despite my exhaustion.


Rinnoji is the generic name for 15 temples in the Nikko area.
Founded in 766, it was named for the successor of Bishop Tenkai,
leader of the Tendai sect at Nikko who built the Nikko Toshogu Shrine.


Rinnoji Kuromon 8430

The Kuromon (Black Gate) is the west entrance.
The stone pillar was carved by Shunkai Bundou “Rinnoji”.


Rinnoji Sanbutsudo 8434

The Sanbutsudo (Three Buddha Hall), the largest building at
Nikko, and the bronze incense burner in front (detail below).


Rinnoji Sanbutsudo 8077

The Sanbutsudo houses three principal statues:
Bato Kannon, Amida Nyorai and Senju Kannon.


Rinnoji Daigomado 8084

Behind the Sanbutsudo is the Daigomado (Prayer Hall).
It has statues of Bishamonten, Daikokuten and Benzaiten.


Rinnoji Sanbutsudo Daigomado 8081

A shot across the Sanbutsudo veranda towards the Daigomado (at right).


Rinnoji Bronze Incense Burner 8436

Detail of the bronze incense burner in front of the Sanbutsudo, supported by Oni (trolls), who hold up all sorts of things in Japan, as mentioned in the Katsuoji section further above.

I have provided a 1500 x 1225 composite of this scene, which shows detail of the bronze Hoju (sacred jewel) and Oni (troll).

—  click this link to open the detail composite  —
(composite will open in a second tab or window)


Rinnoji Sohrinto Tower 8441

The Sorinto (to = tower) holds 1000 Sutras. It is over
43 feet tall, has 24 bells, and is marked with the kamon
(crest) of the Tokugawa (Hollyhocks). Originally at Toshogu
 it was moved to Futarasan in 1650, then to Rinnoji in 1875.


Rinnoji Shoro 8432

The Shoro (bell tower), supported by 12 pillars
(three pillars support each corner). The Shoro was
moved to Rinnoji from Toshogu Shrine’s Okariden Hall.


Rinnoji Komyoin Inari-sha 8089

The Komyoin Inari-sha is a Hokora (miniature shrine).
Founded in the 13th century and dedicated to Inari Okami,
the Shinto Kami of Fertility, Agriculture and Prosperity.


Kofukuji Nan’endo 9929

Kofukuji Nan’endo (South Octagonal Hall) is an
Important Cultural Property. Founded 813, rebuilt in 1789.


Kofukuji Nan’endo 9933

Nan’endo is #9 on the Kansai Kannon Pilgrimage
(Saigoku Sanjusan-sho), a pilgrimage of 33 temples.


Kofukuji Gojunoto 9925

Kofukuji Temple was one of the four great temples of
the Nara period. The tutelary temple of the Fujiwara clan,
it maintained its influence even after the capital moved to
Kyoto, but its power faded in the 12th c. with the Fujiwaras.

Kofukuji Gojunoto is Japan’s 2nd tallest pagoda.
Constructed by Empress Komyo in 725, restored in 1426.


Kofukuji Gojunoto 9926


Ueno Bentendo Sofitel 7447

Ueno Park Bentendo

In a former marshland at the southwest end of Ueno Park is one of the largest bird sanctuaries in Tokyo, and what seems like a rather unusual Buddhist Temple. Benten is one of the Seven Lucky Gods of Japan (the only female in the group), and is a Shinto deity, built early in the 17th century, when Edo (now Tokyo) became capital under the Tokugawa Shogunate, a daimyo (feudal lord) named Mizunoya Katsutaka ordered the construction of a man-made island in the marsh, and built the Bentendo Buddhist Temple on the island. Apparently Buddhist Temples dedicated to Benten are not that unusual.

Overlooked by the unusual architecture of the Tokyo Sofitel, the Bentendo is an octagonal hall, the upper sections of which are very similar to the Yumedono (Hall of Dreams) at Horyuji, the oldest octagonal building in Japan (built in 739). It even has a very similar Hoju (the sacred jewel atop the center of the roof). The Bentendo has a copper roof though, and the lower section is quite different. Inspired by, but not copied.

The current Bentendo is a reconstruction (built in 1958), as the original was destroyed during the air raids of WW II. It is as close to an exact replica as is possible, including the interior paintings. It is approached across a causeway that is built over the foundations of the 17th century stone bridge.


Ueno Bentendo 7445

The Bentendo seems to be ‘floating’ above the marsh.

The temple stands on a man-made island in Ueno Park’s Shinobazu Pond.


Ueno Bentendo 7463

The copper roof on the Bentendo. Atop the roof, in the center next to the lightning rod sits the Hoju,
the sacred gem believed to have the power to repel evil, cleanse corruption and fulfill wishes. This
Hoju is quite nearly identical to the one on the Yumedono at Horyuji (see detail comparison below).


Horyuji Yumedono Hoju Detail 0011
(no linked image)

Detail of the Hoju (also pronounced Houjou or Hoshu) atop the Yumedono, and a comparison
with the Hoju atop the Ueno Park Bentendo (left) which seems to be modeled after the Yumedono jewel.
The ornament is notable in that it consists of a Lotus Flower, a Sacred Vase, a canopy and the Sacred Gem.


Benzaiten Shrine 7455

A Benzaiten shrine on the grounds of the Bentendo temple. Shinto and Buddhism
coexist quite nicely (except during the Meiji Reconstruction and its nationalist schism,
creating a National Religion of Shinto and restricting Buddhism. Edicts forced temples
and shrines to separate, which caused many Buddhist treasures to be sold or destroyed,
including Torii, other gates and sculptures). This cultural disaster has still not been completely
recovered from, as many buildings and artifacts were lost, destroyed, or moved from their origins.

There are also two images of a miniature shrine behind the Benzaiten Shrine on the Assorted Shrines page.

Return to the top of this page


Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.


There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
Assorted Temples are in the following Gallery (Direct Link)

Japan: Shitennoji & Assorted Temples
Shitennoji, Katsuoji, Kofukuji Gojunoto,
Nanzenji Sanmon, Chion-in Sanmon,
Ryozen Kannon, Ueno Bentendo, Kanteibyo


Return to the Temples Index page


Return to the Master Index on the Japan Select page.