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Yasaka Pagoda in the Twilight

The symbol of the Higashiyama (東山) district in Kyoto is the tower of Hokanji (法観寺) temple. The temple’s official name is hardly known even by Kyoto residents, and the tower is commonly known as Yasaka no toh (八坂の塔, Yasaka Pagoda).

It is interesting to note that the temple is said to be built by Shotokutaishi (聖徳太子, the prince Shotoku in the Nara period) when he received a divine prophecy in his dream. In Buddhism, Pagoda is a storage building for Busshari (仏舎利, Buddha’s bones).

Regarding Goju no toh (五重塔, Five storied Pagoda) in Kyoto, many people would recall the one in Toji (東寺) temple. However, Yasaka Pagoda is in fact older than Toji that is built in the Edo (江戸) period, and has great deal of historical importance.

Before the Onin no ran (応仁の乱, the Onin war), the pagoda was destroyed by fire several times, and had been reconstructed by Manamoto no Yoritomo (源頼朝) of the Kamakura (鎌倉) Shogunate. What amazes me is the fact that it has survived the severe fire of the Onin war. The figure now we are able to see is that of before the Onin war constructed by Ashikaga Yoshinori (足利義教), the sixth commander of the Muromachi (室町) shogunate, and it is just extraordinarily miracurous.

I would be happy if you could remember these facts if you come across Yasaka Pagoda during your stay in Kyoto. The pagoda in the twilight was very beautiful.

Akane Kibune
Kyoto Expert Certification 1st Grade

5 mins. on foot from Higashiyama-yasui, or Kiyomizumichi, Kyoto city bus

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