Hondo, The Main Hall


This is the largest wooden building in the temple precincts. Also built in the architectural style which has a two-tiered, thatched roof, the inner sanctuary and the worshippers' hall inside are constructed in a T-shape. The building itself is huge and, with a height of thirty meters and floor-space of 1,766 square meters, it is the largest wooden building with a thatched roof in all Japan. In size it is exceeded only by the Todaiji Temple in Nara and the Sanju-sangendo Hall in Kyoto. It is a representative masterpiece of the architectural style for Buddhist buildings prevalent in the mid-Tokugawa Period. It was completed in 1707 and is now registered as National Tresure.

Inside it the Amida Trinity is enshrined (Amida Buddha with Kannon and Daiseishi Bodhisattvas on either side). According to popular belief, this image was made of gold by the Buddha himself and was brought to Japan from China via Korea, as a gift from the King of Korea in 552 A.D. As previously mentioned, the images of the founder of Zenkoji, Yoshimitsu Honda, and his wife and son are also worshipped here.

Actually, the original Trinity is never worshipped. In 642 A.D. Emperor Kogyoku decided the image was too sacred for human eyes and ordered that it be closed to view. Since that time no human begin has even set eyes on it. A duplicate was made, called Maedachi Honzon, but it too was subsequently hidden from the public eye. It is opened for public viewing only once every seven years in a ceremony called Okaicho (exhibiting the image).


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