The Asukadera, built by Soga-no-Umako.is representative of the large temples of the first half of the 7th century and provides a good indication of the Buddhist culture of the time. Excavation studies reveal that it was originally a great temple covering an area some 200 meters on a side and having in Its central portion three "golden halls" (kondo, sometimes translated "main hall" or "image hall") clustered around a pagoda (to). It is known that workmen from Paekche (Kudara) were engaged In its construction, and the Influence of contemporary Korean Buddhist culture is evidenced in the layout of the buildings and connecting passageways, and even in the designs on the roof tiles.
The pagoda of the Asukadera was lost to fire in 1 196, and the relics (shari) buried beneath it were excavated the following year. A newly made reliquary was placed in a wooden box and buried about 2 meters above the central foundation stone (itself some 3 meters below the surface) . An inscription running around the sides of this box tells us that the pagoda burned in the year Kenkyu 7 (i.e., 1 196, by modern reckoning),and that it had belonged to the "Moto Gangoji." The religious establishment originally attached to the Asukadera was moved in the early 8th century to the Heijo (Nara) capital and newly established as the Gang6ij, and it was in this way that the temple buildings remaining in Asuka had come to be known as the Moto (meaning "former" or "original") Gang6ij.
OBJECTS BURIED UNDER THE ASUKADERA PAGODA
Soga-no-Umako in 593 had several Buddhist relics (busshari) placed within the central foundation stone (toshinso). upon which stood the pagoda's center shaft. It is noteworthy that various objects not specifically connected with Buddhism were buried there at the same time, and that these other artifacts are nearly identical to those buried in tumulus graves (kofun) of the same period. This finding provides a good perspective on the state of transition whereby, during a time of continued kofun-building, Buddhism was beginning to spread among the various gozoku.
buried property|tousi|barei(horse bell)|keikou
meandering Iron|artifacts|round roof-edge tiles
This was the main object of worship (honzon) in the Asukadera's original chu-kondo (central main hall). It was cast in 609 (the 17th year of Empress Suiko's reign) by the master of Buddhist sculpture (busshi) Kuratsukuri-no-Tori, son of a Korean immigrant. It is the oldest extant Buddhist Image in Japan whose date of construction is definitely known. Repairs and alterations from later times are clearly in evidence, but in such features as the elongated face and the shape of the eyes may be seen the original characteristics of the Tori-shiki (Tori style) Buddhist imagery shared also by the Shaka triad at the Horyuji. The granite base is original, as are the socketed stands (hozoana) presently placed on either side and serving to support the flanking attendant figures. Comparing the Asuka Daibutsu with the Horyuji Shaka triad, one is reminded of the power possessed by the Soga family, who were able to commission the building of a joroku-zo, or what was considered to be a full-scale image, one jo and six shaku (or about 4.8 meters) high several times larger than the central figure of the Horyuji triad.
|TAKAMATSUZUKA KOFUN |THE ASUKA TEMPLES |ASUKA AND THE MAN'YOSHU|
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