Honpukuji Temple– The Water Temple (Mizumido)

A serene Space Enshrines the Buddha of Healing

The Honpukuji Temple, also known as the Water Temple, is a sacred place like no other in japan, and perhaps even the world. Located on Awaji Island, overlooking Osaka Bay and surrounded by verdant hills, this temple is a masterpiece of architecture and spirituality. Renowned architect Tadao Ando was tasked with rebuilding the main hall of the temple in 1991, and his design was a departure from tradition.

Instead of following the typical style of Shingon-Omuro temples, Ando created a monumental concrete construction with a massive reflecting pond on top of the main hall. This unique design earned the temple its nickname, the Water Temple. The main hall of Honpukuji Temple is a labyrinth structure that houses a statue of Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of medicine and healing. Stepping into this temple is like entering a different realm, a spiritual journey.

But the Water Temple is not just a building; it is a sensorial experience that immerses visitors in its natural beauty. The temple is situated amidst the breathtaking scenery of Awaji Island, with its lush greenery and stunning views of Osaka Bay. The combination of architecture and nature creates a harmonious atmosphere that is both peaceful and awe-inspiring.

To reach the Water Temple, visitors can take the Awaji Loop bus from JR Sannomiya Station, the closest station to the temple. The bus runs in a circuit around the north of the island, and the temple is a 10-minute walk from the Tateishikawa stop. As visitors make their way to the temple, they will pass through the original temple compound and cemetery, adding to the sense of spirituality and serenity.

The journey to the Water Temple begins with a white gravel path between two tall concrete walls. This path leads to a broad elliptical pond, which reflects the surrounding mountains, foliage, and sky. Crossing the reflecting pool via a stairway, visitors descend into the temple hall that is located under the water. This unique design by Ando challenges the conventional ascent to a holy place and creates a succession of spaces that symbolize initiation into heaven.

The descent into the temple is a moment of darkness, as visitors pass through labyrinthine corridors. But as they emerge into the sacred space of the Buddhist temple, they are greeted by a vibrant vermillion interior. The intense orange-red glow seems to emanate from an invisible source, filling the space with heavenly light. At the heart of the temple, there is a statue of Amida Buddha, the Buddha of Immeasurable Light and Life. This sanctuary exudes a deeply spiritual feeling, inviting visitors to contemplate and meditate.

While the Water Temple is awe-inspiring at any time of day or year, it is particularly recommended to visit during sunset. The vermilion color of the inner sanctum is most intense during this time, as warm light filters through a west-facing window. The symbolism of Buddha originating in India, to the west of Japan, adds to the beauty and significance of the sunset view. Additionally, the reflecting pool is a sight to behold from May to September when the waterlilies are in bloom, and from June to July when the sacred lotuses, representing the emergence of Amida Buddha, are at their most beautiful.

The Water Temple is truly a wondrous place, where architecture and nature come together to create a spiritual haven. It is a testament to the genius of Tadao Ando and the enduring power of Buddhist traditions. Whether one is seeking healing, peace, or simply a connection with the divine, the Honpukuji Temple offers a transcendent experience like no other. A visit to this sacred space is not just a journey, but a pilgrimage to a place of immense beauty and spiritual significance.

Address And Maps Location:

1310 Ura, Awaji-shi, Hyogo-ken

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