August 6, 2002
You enter the temple complex through the Nan-Daimon (South) gate. The most visually dominant building is the five-story pagoda, a dark-colored structure that is the tallest pagoda in Japan at 184 feet in height. It was constructed in 826 and was reconstructed in 1644.
Although the pagoda is initially more noticeable, the Ko-do (Lecture Hall) and Kon-do (Main Hall) are regarded as more culturally significant because of the Esoteric Buddhist treasures they contain. The reddish Ko-do contains 21 religious and mystical statues placed in a special alignment, called the "Karman Mandala". The less ornate Kon-do, the largest building of To-ji, was reconstructed in 1603. It is of a wooden construction, and has a high but dark interior. The Kon-do contains the figures of Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of physical and spiritual being, flanked by his two assistants, Nikko and Gakko. These revered figures were created by artisans about four centuries ago. The throne of the central buddha is surrounded by figures of twelve sacred generals.
The older Miei-do (Founder's Hall) and more modern Homotsu-kan are other buildings within the complex that house other priceless figures, paintings and treasures. The Kon-do, Miei-do, and Pagoda are listed as National Treasures in Japan. The Ko-do is recognized as an Important Cultural Property of Japan. The 21st of each month is a popular day for pilgrims as well as visitors, as this is the date of To-ji's monthly flea market.
From journal Bill in Japan - traditional KYOTO