The wooden standing statute of Shaka, the principal image of the historic temple, was created in China
Spreading its style called Seiryoji-shiki in Japan
(c) Yokoyama Photo OfficeAlso called Saga Shakado, Seiryoji Temple has a wooden standing statute of Shaka (National Treasure. 162 cm high), one of the three most famous Nyorai (Buddha or tathagata) of Japan, as its principal image. The temple was constructed in 895 as a replica of Wutai Shan or Qingliang Shan of China.
The principal image that has a complicated origin is historically invaluable. A Shaka statue commissioned by an ancient Indian king Udayana who was a pious Buddhist was brought to China; in 985, a Japanese monk named Chonen had an accurate replica of the statue made in Sung (China) and brought the replica to Japan. With morions in its eyes, crystal in ears and ropy hair, the image is something different from Buddhist images originated in Japan. Later, a number of Buddhist images were made as "Seiryoji-style" images in Japan in imitation of the statue, which suggests how the statue was valuable to and appreciated by people at the time. An academic study in 1953 highlighted the statue's aspect as a human phantom; its ear holes and nasal cavity are connected; models of internal organs made of silk that were found inside are believed to be the oldest of this kind in the world. This aspect gave another name "Ikimi Nyorai (flesh and blood Buddha)" to the very unique image. The statue is exhibited on the 8th every month (from 11:00) and in April, May, October and November. It is highly recommended to take the opportunity.
The temple makes us feel respect for Buddhism that was the most advanced thought of the time as well as for China that was advanced in Buddhism.
Address: 46 Saga-shakado Fujinoki-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto
Hours open to visitors: 9:00-16:00(treasure house is open only in April, May, October and November (9:00-17:00 during the period))
Admission Fee: 400 yen (main hall and garden); 700 yen (main hall, garden and treasure house)
Directions: Train: 15 minutes by foot from JR Sanin Honsen Saga-Arashiyam Station (17 minutes from Kyoto Station)