Kondō Hall of Tōshōdaiji Temple
(courtesy of General Incorporated Foundation Nara Visitors Bureau)

Uchiwamaki Ceremony of Tōshōdaiji Temple
(courtesy of the tourist association of Nara City)

Tōshōdaiji Temple

The head temple of a Buddhist sect called Risshū located in Gojō-chō of Nara City. It is famous for having been founded by Ganjin (688 -763), a priest, who came to Japan from Tang (China) after many difficulties. Ganjin made up his mind to come to Japan, moved by the passion of Priest Eiei (also pronounced as “Yōei”) of Daianji Temple (date of birth and death unknown) and Priest Fushō of Kōfukuji Temple (date of birth and death unknown) who had gone to Tang together with the delegation dispatched by the Japanese government. Thereafter, Ganjin tried to go across the sea five times, but failed, and to make matters worse, he was hit by sight loss. In 753, at last, he succeeded on the 6th attempt to cross the sea, and in the next year, the place for bestowing Buddhist commandments was set up in front of Daibutsuden Hall of Tōdaiji Temple, where he conducted some ceremonies for bestowing Buddhist commandments for Emperor Shōmu (701 – 756 ), Empress Kōmyō (701 – 760), and Emperor Kōken (718 – 770 < the reign: 749 – 758>). Every year, on May 19, a Buddhist ceremony called “Uchiwamaki” is conducted in order to remember Kakujō (1194 – 1249), a priest who made efforts for restoration of the temple in the Kamakura Period (1185 – 1333), in which heart-shaped fans are given away to worshippers. In 1998, it was registered as a World Heritage Site as part of the cultural heritage of ancient Nara.