The so-called Phoenix Hall at the temple, Byodoin, in Uji. Built in 1053 by Fujiwara Yorimichi, the Phoenix Hall contains the Amida sculpture carved by Jocho, and the compound attempts to represent on earth the western paradise of Pure Land Buddhism. This image shows the Amida Hall as seen from directly across the pond directly in front of the hall. Because of the placement of the pond, the hall cannot be approached directly from the front, perhaps a physical assertion of the Heian aesthetic preference for indirection.
From the nandaimon, the great south gate, one approaches the compound of Horyuji along a very long graveled walk. The compound, proper, is surrounded by a cloister, a walled and roofed walk, which sets the compound apart from the world surrounding it. The entrance to the compound is this great chumon, middle gate, one of the original structures remaining from the late 7th century, when the compound was built. The gate, on the south perimeter of the compound, is two stories high and four bays wide. The outer bays are occupied by sculpted Nio figures, guardian deities of Buddhism. The gate at Horyuji deliberately is not placed perfectly symmetrically, at the center of the south cloister wall. Instead, it is slightly to the west of center, to accommodate the placement of the pagoda and the kondo inside the compound, each equidistant from the north-south walk bisecting the compound.
This is the northwest corner of the Five-storied Pagoda. It is seen here from the ambulatory, the clositered walk that defines and encloses the compound. (At this point, the north-south ambulatory along the west side of the compound turns east for a short distance, before turning back north. This slight "dog leg" in the cloister walk occurs just south of the sutra repository, which is built into the cloister wall just south of the Kodo. The Kodo is the Lecture Hall, the south-facing building that defines the northern side of the compound. The Belfry, the Sutra Respository, and the Kodo were originally outside of the cloister wall, the original north side of which crossed the compound, east to west, next to the north of the Kondo and the Pagoda. It is worth noting here that the north-south axis of Buddhist temples and compounds is almost inviolable and is based, originally, in the concerns of geomancy, Chinese in origin.)
A detail photograph of the roof of the Phoenix Hall, the Hoodo, at Byodoin, Uji. It shows one of the phoenix figures, but is, mainly, a dramatic photograph...
The Kondo, the Golden Hall, is the worship hall. It contains an altar and a perimeter walk, around which worshippers would walk in clockwise direction (circumabulate) as they worship. The kondo at Horyuji contains a number of sculptural works, including the Tori masterpiece, the Shaka Triad, cast in 623, as a memorial for Prince Shotoku. -- The kondo at Horyuji was built in the late 7th c., part of the compound built to replace the Wakakusadera compound. -- The kondo reflects very clearly the influences of Korea and China in early Japanese Buddhist art. -- Destroyed by accidental fire in the late 1940's, the kondo was reconstructed exactly with funds raised by popular, nationwide subscription.