Toji (or To-ji, "Eastern Temple") is a Buddhist temple of the Shingon sect in the city center of Kyoto, Japan. It is best known for its five-story pagoda, the highest wooden tower in Japan.
History of Toji
Established by imperial edict in 796 AD and named Kyo-o-gokoku-ji, Toji was built to guard the city. It is more commonly known as Toji (Eastern Temple) because it once had a partner, Saiji (Western Temple), and the two stood alongside the Rashomon, the gate to the Heian capital. These were the only two temples that Emperor Kammu permitted to be built in the city, for he had had enough of the powerful Buddhists during his days in Nara.
In 823, Emperor Saga gave the temple to the priest Kukai (Kobo Daishi), who founded the Shingon sect of Buddhism. To-ji became one of Kyoto's most important temples.
Fires and wars during the 16th century destroyed most of the temple buildings. One survivor is the Kodo (Lecture Hall), which has survived intact since it was built in 1491. The others were rebuilt, including the Kondo (Main Hall) in 1603.
UNESCO designated Toji a World Heritage Site in 1994. Today it is an oasis of calm in central Kyoto.
What to See at Toji
Toji's most eye-catching building is the 57-meter (180-foot), five-story pagoda, reconstructed in 1695. It is the tallest wooden tower in Japan. The Kodo (Lecture Hall), dating from 1491, contains 15 original statues of Buddhist deities that were carved in the 8th and 9th centuries. The temple's principal image is of Yakushi Nyorai, the healing Buddha.
Festivals and Events
There is a popular antiques market held at Toji on the 21st of every month until around 4:30, and a smaller one on the first Sunday of the month.
Quick Facts on Toji
|World Heritage Sites
|Visitor and Contact Information
|34.981183° N, 135.747728° E
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- Fodor's Japan, 17th ed.
- Toji - Japan-Guide.com
- Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto - UNESCO World Heritage List
- Photos of Toji - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of Toji, Kyoto
Below is a location map and aerial view of Toji. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.