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"The Interpretation of Japanese Byodoin Hoodo, Phoenix Hall"
The Interpretation of Japanese Byodoin Hoodo, Phoenix Hall
(1) Mandalas, 2-D interpretations of Buddhist sutras have been part of Japanese tradition for thousands of years. In 1061 Phoenix Hall in Uji, Byodoin, Japan was consecrated as a veneration of “The Visualization Sutra” Buddha Amitabha. This 3-D offering, an architectural piece was financed by Fujiwara no Yorimichi, a politically influential aristocrat and lover of the arts who has been credited with the unique idea and design. It was known to have been compared to Sukhdvati (the pure land of Amitabha) by guests.
Scholars have compared it to traditional temples Earlier temples were much simpler, square with pyramidal roof or rectangular with a hip-and-gable roof. Phoenix Hall has a bird-like appearance, hence the name, because the main hall can be seen as the body and the two symmetrical long galleries at either side as the bird’s wings. Added is the sensation of five roofs that seem ready to float up into the sky.
The Temple was situated in an artificial lake in wetlands and on the bank of the Uji River. The lake surface perfectly reflects the temple. The sutra being “visual and visionary” mirrors the temple which is visually beautiful, symmetrical and constructed in a new, perhaps even visionary way. Some of the balance comes from design structures that have no other purpose but to provide harmony in the interior space (such as a partial upper story). Privacy and inaccessibility to strangers is provided by the grounds of the compound as well as the layers of hallways and galleries which the family knew well.
Structural innovations have been studied thoroughly. Replicating other temples was not common yet two others men did so. Some speculate that it was a type of power play or grudging respect by an enemy.
(2) The copies were built intentionally by an emperor and a warlord. Ms Yiengpruksawan has...

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