Kōryū-ji

Buddhist Temple in Northwest Kyoto

Kōryū-ji, one of the oldest temples in Japan, was founded in 622 to honour Prince Shōtoku, who was an enthusiastic promoter of Buddhism. It’s notable mostly for its collection of Buddhist statuary; a visit with a knowledgeable guide is a good way to learn about the different levels of beings in the Buddhist pantheon. It's a bit out of the way, but it can be paired with nearby Myōshin-ji to form a half-day tour for those with an interest in Japanese Buddhism.

The Hattō (Lecture Hall) to the right of the main gate houses a magnificent trio of 9th-century statues: Buddha, flanked by manifestations of Kannon. The Reihōkan (Treasure House) contains numerous fine Buddhist statues, including the Naki Miroku (Crying Miroku) and the renowned Miroku Bosatsu (Bodhisattva of the Future), which is extraordinarily expressive. A national upset occurred in 1960 when an enraptured university student embraced the statue in a fit of passion (at least, that was his excuse) and inadvertently snapped off its little finger.


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