Photo Gallery

Jōruri-ji Temple - 浄瑠璃寺 (built 1047)

Jōruri-ji Temple, to the southeast of Kyoto, is one of the few surviving Pure Land Buddhist temple gardens in Japan. It was built in 1047 by the Priest Eshin and is notable for its Paradise Hall, a Heian era original constructed in 1157, which contains nine statues of the Amida Buddha in each of the nine stages of Nirvana.

The garden is laid out as a figurative representation of the Pure Land cosmos. At the center of the garden is the earth, represented by a small island. Surrounding the earth is a pond that symbolizes the ocean that separates birth from death. At the east side of the pond is a small pagoda, moved here from Kyoto, housing an image of Yakushi Nyorai (the Buddha of Medicine) who watches after the living and protects them from harm. On the opposite side of the pond, to the west, is the Paradise Hall, a representation of the Western Paradise presided over by the Amida Buddha.

Until the late twentieth century the garden existed in a state of near-decay. Beginning in 1976, a compreshensive restoration effort was undertaken under the auspices of Mori Osamu, a renowned garden designer and historian. The restoration involved careful attention to determining as best as possible the original shape of the pond and planting the surrounding areas with plants that would have been familiar to Heian-era gardeners.

Temple and Garden Layout

Plan drawn by Timothy Ciccone following site brochure.
Layout of Jōruri-ji


The approximate location of Jōruri-ji is 34.715581' N, 135.873031' E (WGS 84 map datum).


All images copyright 2013 Tsukamoto Masako.

Itoh, Teiji. The Gardens of Japan
  Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1998.

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  Cologne: Benedikt Taschen Verlag, 1999.

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  Boston: Tuttle Pub, 1984.

Turner, Tom. Asian Gardens: History, Beliefs, and Design
  New York: Routledge, 2011.

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  Boston: Tuttle Publishing, 2005.

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