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According to the description on the bronze plaque of the Hokke Sessō-zu (銅板法華説相図 dōban hokke sessō zu ), the temple was first built in 686 and dedicated to Emperor Temmu, who was suffering from a disease. Later in 727, the temple was further expanded by order of Emperor Shōmu, placing an eleven-faced Kannon near the original temple enshrining the bronze plaque.
The temple was favored by aristocrats such as the author of the Kagerō Nikki and the author of the Sarashina Nikki during the Heian period. The temple burnt down as many as ten times since the 10th century, yet enjoyed popularity among people, helped by the fact it was situated on the route to Ise Shrine.
Hase-dera has flourished as one of the centers of Shingon Buddhism, particularly after the arrival of priest Sen'yo from Negoro-ji in 1588.
The current Main Hall, a reconstruction of 1650 built by donation of Tokugawa Iemitsu, represents the scenic beauty of the temple, together with the wooden staircase (登廊 noborirō ) leading to the Hall from the Niō gate, and the cherry trees surrounding the complex.
The Kansai Kannon Pilgrimage No.8.
The designated Important Cultural Properties at Hase-dera include:
- the Main Hall (National Treasure)
- the bronze plaque of the Hokke Sessō-zu (National Treasure)
- the Hokke Sutra (National Treasure)
- the Niō gate (Important Cultural Property)
- the Bell tower (Important Cultural Property)
- the Staircase (Important Cultural Property)
- the Eleven-faced Kannon (Important Cultural Property)
- List of National Treasures of Japan (crafts-others)
- List of National Treasures of Japan (temples)
- List of National Treasures of Japan (writings)
- For an explanation of terms concerning Japanese Buddhism, Japanese Buddhist art, and Japanese Buddhist temple architecture, see the Glossary of Japanese Buddhism.
- Ed. Nara Chamber of Commerce (2006). Nara Mahoroba Somurie Kentei Official Textbook. Yama to Keikoku sha. pp. 129. ISBN 4-635-60050-5.
- Pamphlet distributed by Hase-dera on site. (Japanese)
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