If you happened to read the first part of my Shitenno-ji tour you may have felt a vague sense of disappointment, incompleteness, or even confusion. Don’t worry, all is answered here as our little tour moves past the gates and into the ground of the oldest state sponsored Buddhist Temple in Japan (the buildings aren’t the oldest, since they’ve been rebuilt, but the ground is the same-ish). According to the English Language pamphlet provided with my entry fee, “Shitennoji was founded in 593 by Prince Shotoku and dedicated to the Four Guardian Kings, or Shitenno.”
Past the Sai-Mon (West Gate) with the Nio guardians is the garan, the main central area of Shitenno-ji. The Inner Gate, Pagoda, Main Hall (Kondo), and Lecture Hall (Kodo) all line up from south to North, with an enclosed walkway around the inner courtyard.
Past the southern inner gate is the towering 5 story pagoda, which “enshrines relics of the Buddha himself.”
This is the Main Hall (kondo) which is north of the pagoda. Inside is a statue of “Prince Shotocu in his incarnation as Guze Kannon.”
To the north west of the courtyard is a covered well with a bronze dragon statue. You can tell from the head and the ball it holds that people rub them for good luck.
The entirety of the inner garan is covered in small pebbles. In the background of this photo is the Kodo, the Lecture and gathering hall to the north and incorporated into the surrounding walkway.
Back outside the garan, there are still many interesting things to see. The building in the background is the Rokuji-do, and is “said to have been established by the… founder of the Tendai Sect of Buddhism.” The rock stage (ishi butai) in front sits on a bridge over a pond with several islands for the turtles that inhabit it.
I was extremely lucky to catch this Great Blue Heron showing off on one of the turtle islands. Unfortunately, no one was able to guess what it was from the shadow, but it hung around long enough for me to catch some pictures of it from above.
Finally, along the east side of the garan is a garden, treasure-house containing swords used by Prince Shotoku, a rare Lotus Sutra, and Buddhist art, and other buildings. Here are a few more photos from the temple grounds.