Revisiting Byodo-In in Uji - The Original

By Christina Kim - June 23, 2016


I have seen a fair amount of religious places on my travels; from temples, churches, mosques, chapels and such, they are all just inspiring and memorable to fill my travelogue and I am definitely humbled by them.

Granted, I am also into spiritual places for they offer so much insight into the beliefs which have shaped the mindsets of their followers and how the teachings have contributed to the overall evolution of mankind, and the world.
There is that special place I hold in my heart for religious places; regardless of the religion or whether they share similar values with my own religious beliefs.
It doesn't really matter, for to me, all religions are similar as they focus on ultimately the good.
They are just different in their practices and perspectives, but generally, there is nothing bad about any religion; only the people who perceive or thwart the way it is taught.

These religious places are all unique in their own architectural and structural design, though there are some which are inspired by another or even share the similar styles commonly found and traced back to the traditional origins.

However, it is rare, or almost never, have I come across the exact same architecture or two temples or religious sites which are identical to each other, through my travels.

Except this particular one; where I have seen it once and this is my second encounter with the exact same temple.
In fact, I actually made it a point to include a visit to this temple on my itinerary when I visited Tokyo, on purpose.

Byodo-In has a special place in my heart.


Ever since the first time I set my foot in this temple a few years ago, I had always wanted to visit this other one in Japan.
Its original location in Kyoto.

Yes, while the temples are similar in their design though located in different locations (and countries), the one I first visited was in fact a smaller one because that was actually a Replica of this original temple, first erected here in the former capital of Japan.

Most people would probably visit the original then find themselves seeing the replica elsewhere, but me, it was the other way round.

I first saw Byodo-In, or rather, its replica, in a much smaller scale form when I was visiting Oahu (read about my visit here).

I fell in love with the temple almost immediately, for there is just a deep sense of tranquility surrounding the grounds of the temple.
Perhaps it is the whole aura of religious places, but I always find such unspoken peace whenever I visit any religious site (as I've mentioned, regardless of the religious denomination).

When I found out it was a replica of the original temple located all the way in Japan, I made a mental note instantly that I will make a visit to the original site when I am in Japan.

Fast forward to a few years later, here I am, standing before the magnificent and the original site of Byodo-In; situated in the serene city of Uji in Kyoto.

It is just as I have imagined it to be, and even greater, if I may say.

Well, I have, after all, seen it, though in a much smaller form before, but nothing beats the original.
I am sure you agree.

Besides, the replica in Oahu was only half the size of this; so if I was already in awe then, take that and double the factor.

It is no surprise that the beautiful Byodo-In is a National Treasure of Japan, along with a few named items located inside the temple; and including the famous Phoenix Hall (after which the replica was modeled after) and the great statue of Amida inside the Hall.

Byodo-In was also listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in December 1994; and named as one of the Historic Monuments of Kyoto.


There is definitely more than what meets the eye in the striking beauty of this more than century-old temple; first erected in the 10th century, in 998 during the late Heian Period; jointly belonging to the Jodo-shu and Tendai-shu sects.

The Buddhist temple was formerly built as a villa for the Minister of Left, Minamoto no Shigenobu and thereafter converted into a temple in the 11th century, in 1052.

The temple grounds are huge but enjoyably walkable as one takes in the architectural design from its various angles.

Surrounded by a beautiful pond which creates a picturesque shot of the temple as its reflections fall onto the glistening and still jade green surface, the temple is distinguishably perfect from every angle.

While there are many buildings located on the grounds of the temple, the most famous and iconic building of them all; is the Phoenix Hall (鳳凰堂 Hōō-dō), also known as the Amida Hall, where an image of Amida Buddha is located.


It is this very structure inspiring the construction of the replica and it is also this very hall; complete with its iconic phoenix statues perched on the roofs (after which the hall is named) which the replica in the Valley of Temples in Oahu was remodeled after.

Needless to say, Phoenix Hall itself is declared a National Treasure of Japan.

The remaining buildings around the temple's compound; were mostly destroyed in a fire during a civil war in 1336.

The Phoenix Hall survived it all; remaining as the only original building belonging to Byodo-In, which is the reason for its status in the nation's treasury, with all its historical and cultural values.


In fact, the overall temple or particularly the Phoenix Hall is widely commemorated by the Japanese government as they made their way into the currency; with an image of the temple on the 10 yen coin and the phoenix being featured on the 10,000 yen note, and even making their appearances on postal stamps before.
It is a celebration, and a tribute to the survival and the long livelihood of the Hall.

Another eye-catching feature on the grounds of the temple is the Jodo-shiki garden, located right in front of the temple itself, with a pond.

You won't miss it, and it is also a designated National Historic Site and declared a Place of Scenic Beauty.

Well deserving every bit of the title, I say.

The temple was worth my time; even though I had to rush from the earlier Himeji Castle from a different region and then having to rush back to Kyoto city late in the evening.

I had limited time here, but I squeezed this visit into my itinerary, against all the odds, because it is mandatory.
I wanted to.
I simply MUST see the original temple.

It completes my wishlist since my visit to its replica, which was constructed in 1968.

Half the size and halfway around the world, several years later, it was worth every second.

No regrets.

Byodo-In, the Original and Replica - Checked.

























Featured in this post:
Byodo-In Temple (the Original)
City of Uji, Kyoto Perfecture, Japan

Renge-116 Uji, Kyoto Perfecture 611-0021, Japan

Opening Hours: 
8.30am-5.30pm Daily (Last admission at 5.15pm)

Admission Fees: 
Adult: ¥600
For full information on the fees, please refer to the website here

*Author's Note: 
This is not a sponsored/promotional post, and solely based on author's personal opinions and do not represent the general public. 
Experiences vary from one individual to another.
You do not have to agree with me.

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