Tō-ji (東寺 Tō-ji ) is a Buddhist temple of the Shingon sect in Kyoto, Japan. Its name means East Temple, and it once had a partner, Sai-ji (West Temple). They stood alongside the Rashomon, the gate to the Heian capital. It is formally known as Kyō-ō-gokoku-ji (教王護国寺 The Temple for the Defense of the Nation by Means of the King of Doctrines ) which indicates that it previously functioned as a temple providing protection for the nation. Tō-ji is located in Minami-ku near the intersection of Ōmiya Street and Kujō Street, southwest of Kyoto Station.
Tō-ji is often associated with Kōbō Daishi (Kūkai). The well-known Buddhist priest was put in charge of Tō-ji in 823 by order of Emperor Saga. The temple's principal image is of Yakushi Nyorai, the Medicine Buddha.
The pagoda of Tō-ji stands 54.8 m high, and is the tallest wooden tower in Japan. It dates from the Edo period, when it was rebuilt by order of the third Tokugawa Shogun, Iemitsu. The pagoda has been, and continues to be, a symbol of Kyoto. Entrance into the pagoda itself is permitted only a few days a year.
The buildings at Tō-ji house a variety of ancient Buddhist sculptures. The grounds feature a garden and pond, in which turtles and koi swim. The grounds also house an academically rigorous private school, Rakunan, from which many students are sent to elite universities.
Recognizing the historical and spiritual significance of Tō-ji, UNESCO designated it, along with several other treasures in Kyoto Prefecture, as part of the "Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto" World Heritage Site.
On the 21st of each month, a famous flea market is held on the grounds of Tō-ji . This market is popularly called Kōbō-san, in honor of Kōbō Daishi, who died on March 21st. The flea market features a variety of antiques, art, clothes, pottery, some food, and typical second-hand flea market goods. By far the largest market is held on December 21st, as it is the last of the year.
A similar market is held on the 25th of every month at Kitano Tenmangu, also called Tenjin. A Kyoto proverb proclaims, "Fair weather at Tō-ji market means rainy weather at Tenjin market," calling to mind Kyoto's fickle weather.
A smaller, less-crowded, antique-oriented market is held at the Tō-ji grounds on the first Sunday of each month.
On July 7, 2007 one of the Live Earth concerts (raising awareness for the earth’s climate) was staged at Tō-ji; artists who played included Bonnie Pink, Michael Nyman, Rip Slyme, UA and the Yellow Magic Orchestra.
- List of Buddhist temples in Kyoto
- List of National Treasures of Japan (residences)
- List of National Treasures of Japan (temples)
- List of National Treasures of Japan (ancient documents)
- List of National Treasures of Japan (paintings)
- List of National Treasures of Japan (sculptures)
- List of National Treasures of Japan (writings)
- List of National Treasures of Japan (crafts-others)
- For an explanation of terms concerning Japanese Buddhism, Japanese Buddhist art, and Japanese Buddhist temple architecture, see the Glossary of Japanese Buddhism.
- Ponsonby-Fane, Richard Arthur Brabazon. (1956). Kyoto: The Old Capital of Japan, 794-1869. Kyoto: The Ponsonby Memorial Society.