Pagoda of Kofukuji and Hananomatsu, Nara
Five-storied pagoda in the Kohfukuji Buddhist temple complex. Hananomatsu is the tree.
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Kofukuji used to be the family temple of the Fujiwara, the most powerful aristocratic clan during much of the Nara and Heian Periods. The temple was established in Nara at the same time as the capital in 710. At the height of Fujiwara power, the temple consisted of over 150 buildings.
Nara was the capital of Japan from 710 to 784. During this period the framework of national government was consolidated and Nara enjoyed great prosperity, emerging as the fountainhead of Japanese culture.
Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara (UNESCO)
The Five-Story Pagoda, which was completely restored in 1426, is the second tallest pagoda in Japan at 50.1m, behind the 55m-tall pagoda at Toji Temple in Kyoto. The pagoda had burnt down no less than five times before the 15th century.
From the temple website:
History of Kohfukuji
In the eighth year of the reign of Emperor Tenji (669 CE), Kagami no Okimi, consort of the statesman Nakatomi (Fujiwara) no Kamatari, founded a Buddhist chapel on the family estate in Yamashina Suehara (in modern-day Kyoto Prefecture) to pray for Kamatari’s recovery from illness. In this temple, which came to be known as Yamashinadera, Kagami no Okimi enshrined a Shaka triad (Sakyamuni, the historical Buddha, along with two attendant Bodhisattvas) that had originally been commissioned by Kamatari. In the wake of the relocation of the capital as a result of the Jinshin Rebellion of 672, the temple was disassembled and moved to Umayasaka in Nara prefecture, where it was re-erected and named Umayasakadera.
Shortly after the establishment of the Heijo Capital in 710, Yamashinadera relocated to its present location in what is now the city of Nara. The temple, now called Kohfukuji (“The Temple that Generates Blessings”), grew rapidly in size under the patronage of successive emperors and empresses, as well as continued support from members of the powerful Fujiwara family. Over time, it developed a particularly close connection with the “Northern House” of the Fujiwara clan, under whose sponsorship it accumulated sufficient wealth and power to rank as one of the “Four Great Temples” of the Nara Period (710-784) and one of the “Seven Great Temples” of the Heian Period (794-1180).
The Kohfukuji Temple Complex
THE FIVE-STORIED PAGODA
The five-storied pagoda was originally erected in 730 by Empress Komyo, the daughter of Kohfukuji’s founding patron, Fujiwara no Fuhito. Over its long history, the building burned down a total of five times, with the current reconstruction dating to around the year 1426. At a total height of 50.1 meters, it is the second tallest wooden pagoda in Japan today. Famous for its deep eaves, the structure successfully blends references to Nara-period architecture with the dynamic architectural style of the medieval period. The original Nara-period building is thought to have risen to a height of around 45 meters, making it the tallest man-made structure in Japan at the time.
The Kohfukuji Temple Complex: the Five Storied Pagoda
On the stone monument is written “Monument of Hananomatsu”.
Actually, there was a pine tree in front of the Tokondo hall.
It was called Hananomatsu.
It is said that the pine trees were planted by Kobo Daishi.
Kobo Daishi is the posthumous name of the priest called Kukai about 1,200 years ago.
Kukai is the one who opened a new sect of Buddhism called Shingon sect.
For this reason, he has a name that respects Kobo Daishi.
The pine grew big, but it withered in 1937.
In 1940, successor pine was planted.
But that pine withered in 2008.
Thereafter, pines have not been planted there.
Tourist Spots in Kyoto, Nara, Osaka