The lotus flower blooms at Toshoudai-ji temple

The high priest Jianzhen from Tang founded Toshoudai-ji temple during the Nara period. It’s a historical monument from ancient Nara city and was designated as a Unesco world heritage site in 1998. Lotus flowers have been cultivated here ever since the temple was founded. There’s about 130 lotus water bowls with two lotus ponds on the temple grounds. You can enjoy them in bloom from the middle of June to end of July in their water bowls, and from the middle of June to September 1st in the lotus ponds.


The Buddha statues on a lotus stage

Upon entering to the Kondo (Main Hall), you’ll see the Buddha statues and a pedestal-like stage consisting of lotus floral designs. The display in which the Buddha statues are placed on exemplifies the lotus flower. The lotus is not only designed as a pedestal, but also acts as a hand to hold the Buddha statues. It’s a symbolic flower of the teachings of Buddha and appears in Buddha related stories. When Buddha was born and started to walk, the ground cracked and out bloomed a large lotus flower. Buddha then stood and said, “I am the center of the universe in a large lotus,” and it was for this reason that the lotus is known as a seat for Buddha.


The introduction of Buddhism with lotus designs

The lotus design came via the Korean Peninsula to Japan with the introduction of Buddhism during the Asuka period (529~710). The Asuka temple was built with lotus tiles. It was built as the first temple for Mr. Soga’s family from the end of the 6th century to the early 7th century. Many experts were invited from Kudara (Korea) for this task, including a special tile expert who used the ‘Kawa-shi’ tile manufacturing method. This method uses decorative lotus designs and can be considered one of the first temple designs with the introduction of Buddhism in Japan.


The flower of paradise in Buddhism

The lotus is a water flower and lives in clusters on a pond or the lake. The lotus flower blooms from July to August. The stem beneath the water grows through the surface and blooms into a beautiful white or pink flower. I recommend going to see them in bloom during the early morning time, because the flowers usually close up by noon. In Buddhism, the lotus is planted on temple grounds, because it’s considered a secret flower of a secret pond in paradise. You can see the lotus on many temple grounds in Japan.


13-46, gojyo-chou, Nara shi, 630-8032, Japan

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I love Japanese folkcraft article, traditional handicrafts and antiques. I’m seeking the Japanese people’s religious outlooks and its origins that are behind Japanese people’s unique sense and techniques rooted in the ordinary life.


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Access JR or Kintetsu Nara station, Kintetsu Nishi no Kyo station 700m from Kintetsu Nishi no Kyo station Taking to Rokujyo-zan for 17 minutes, Near to the Nara koutu bus ' Toushoudai-ji temple' stop
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