Gangoji Temple

 (World Heritage Site)

  the Shingon ritsu Sect
■ History ■

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Asuka Temple in Auka of Takaichi Country
Auka Temple soon became both the fountain-head of Japanese Buddhism--two of the six schools of Buddhism were brought from China and established there--and a center where many of the cultures from the Chinese Continent were initially introduced.During this period it was also the arena of royal court politics and diplomacy.What became known as Auka Culture was born in this temple and subsequently diffused throughout Japan.

Gangoji Temple Reconstructed in Nara as Capital Moved
When Emperor Gemmyo decided to move Japan's capital from Auka to Nara in 710 A.D.(the 3yd year of the Waldo Era),Asuka temple was also moved and then renamed Gangoji Temple after its reconstruction in Nara. Though the name was officially changed,many people still referred to the temple compound by its original name,calling it "Asuka of Nara".

Asuka of Nara
Otto-no Sakanoue-no-Iratsume,a famous poet of the period whose works were selected for inclusion in the Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves(manyoshu),write the following poem concerning the new temple of Gangoji.

"Furusato-no Asukawa-aredo Aoniyoshi Nara-no Asuka-o Miyakushi-yoshimo"

(Lit.Though we still have our old capital of Asuka,we now have the beautiful new Auka Temple(Gangoji)in the bustling capital of Nara.)---
From the 6 the volume of the Mannish

People can easily imagine how those courtiers forced to move from the old capital of Asuka to the new Gangoji Temple was almost compound.
The poem is supposed to have been written in 733 A.D.(the 5the year of the Tempyo Period), when the construction of a Gangoji which was receiving patronage from the government of Daikan-daiji and in the new capital.It therefore remains a mystery why the Temple,which was originally erected only as a private sanctuary of the Soga clan and destined to be left untouched because of the assassination of Soga-no Iruka(then,head of the clan),was moved to the new capital just eight years later .The source of the funds used to cover the expenses of moving and reconstructing the Temple also remains a mystery.We hope someday to find the answers to these puzzling questions.
In any case,the move and reconstruction of Gangoji Temple in the new capital of Nara was all accomplished in a relatively short time and the Temple's priests quickly undertook to reestablish the Temple's importance in the propagation of leadership in the Buddhist world .It is regrettable that there during its heyday.The following are the Temple's most prominent remains.

1)Higashi-daito-ato(Remains of Eastern Five-Storied-Tower)-designated historical remains
2)Nishi-shotoin-ato(Remain of the Western Small Pagoda Hall)-designated historical remains
3)Gangoji-Gokuraku-bo keidai (Remains of the Southeast contemplation and a piece of lecture Halls) -designated historical remains
4)-do(Hall of pure land)-designated national treasure
5)Zen Shitu(Contemplation Hall)-designated national treasure
6)Goju-shoto(Five-Storied Small Pagoda)-designated national treasure

The miniature pagoda(Goju-shoto)is kept in the Temple's treasure house, and is very famous as the main object of worship enshrined in Nishi-shoto-do Hall.It is also the only five-storied pagoda to be constructed in Japan at the zenith of the Nara Period.

Five-Storied Small Pagoda
Nara Period
National Treasure

In 749 A.D.(the 1St year of the Shoto Era of the Tempyo Period),the ownership of utilized land Konden belonging to every temple was limited in accordance with its ranking by a newly ordained government decree.The resulting allotments of land were made:4,000chobu(about 396,000 acres)and 2,000 chobu to the Todaiji and Gangoji Temples respectively,1,000 chobu to the Daianji,the Yakushiji and Kofukuji Temples,and 500 chobu to the Horyuji and Shitennoji Temples.These Figures help to demonstrate the importance and ranking that Gangoji temple held among other Buddhist temples during that time period.