amidadou 阿弥陀堂
KEY WORD : architecture / buildings & structures
 
A hall in a Buddhist temple dedicated to *Amida 阿弥陀 (Sk: Amitabha), the Buddha of boundless light and infinite life who rules over the Western Paradise saihou 西方 or the Pure Land joudo 浄土. The hall contains a statue of Amida, often accompanied by statues of *Kannon 観音 (Sk: Avalokitsvara; the bodhisattva of mercy), and *Seishi 勢至 (Sk: Mahasthamaprapta; the bodhisattva of wisdom). The sect of Buddhism focusing on Amida began in India, spread to China, and then to Japan. In Japan, Amida eventually became the chief deity of the Pure Land sects. Reverence for Amida also spread within the esoteric sects, Tendais 天台 and Shingon 真言 sects. According to the Pure Land sects, only by repetition of invocations to Amida could one achieve rebirth in the Western Paradise upon one's death. Therefore, during the Heian and Kamakura periods, the aristocracy founded temples and supported the construction of elaborate, gorgeously decorated halls to enshrine the Amida figure. Most famous, but no longer extant, was Houjouji 法成寺 (1022) in Kyoto, described in a historical account of the Fujiwara family, EIGA MONOGATARI 栄花物語. Within the precinct was the most ornate *Muryoujiu-in 無量寿院 housing nine Amida statues. The only extant Amidadou with nine Amida is at Joururiji 浄瑠璃寺 also called Kutaiji Hondou 九体寺本堂 (1107) in Kyoto. The structure is 11×4 bays, with a hipped roof *yosemune-zukuri 寄棟造, covered with tile *kawarabuki 瓦葺. It also has a single bay step-canopy *kouhai 向拝. Byoudouin *Hououdou 平等院鳳凰堂 (1053) in Kyoto, has a main structure which is 3×2 bays with a tiled one-bay deep pent roof *mokoshi 裳階. It also has a hip-and-gable roof *irimoya-zukuri 入母屋造, which covers a large statue of Amida and angelic figures playing musical instruments, all richly decorated. Both of these buildings face ponds as was the customary arrangement for the large, elaborately decorated Amidadou. Also built in 1124 by the northern Fujiwara 藤原 clan is the Little Golden Hall *Konjikidou 金色堂 at Chuusonji 中尊寺 in Iwate prefecture. It is a small 3×3 bay (5.48×5.48m) structure, covered with lacquer and gold-leaf on the exterior. The interior is highly ornate with the twelve aspects of Amida portrayed in gold-flecked lacquer *makie 蒔絵, in the sanctuary *naijin 内陣. The images are embellished with inlay, repousse, gilt bronze, engravings of floral patterns, and filigree work. It was completely repaired and restored during the 1960s and is now protected by a cover building ooiya 覆屋. On a small scale, it presents an image of the lavish style that appealed to the Heian aristocracy. The majority of existing Ganjouji Amidadou 願成寺阿弥陀堂 in Fukushima prefecture, are 3×3 bays square. The width of the bays of the exterior walls is not always equal. The altar and statue of Amida either are centered, or to create more space, pushed back so that the altar straddles and is in line with the rear bay. There are two pillars *raigoubashira 来迎柱, to right and left of the altar behind the statue of Amida. A wall called *raigoukabe 来迎壁 stretches between the two rear pillars and is painted with the theme of the ''Descent of Amida'. Many amidadou have two additional pillars at the front of the altar. The four together are sometimes called *shitenbashira 四天柱. These pillars are connected to the peripheral pillars by tie beams. Most halls have 3-on-1, non-projecting bracket complexes that are parallel to the wall plane, hiramitsudo 平三斗, with either bearing block capped struts *kentozuka 間斗束, or frog-leg struts *kaerumata 蟇股, in the interstices *nakaszonae 中備. Anther bracket complex employed is boat-shaped, *funahijiki 舟肘木, 3-on-1 at right angles to one another *demitsudo 出三斗, and two have *zenshuuyou 禅宗様, 3-stepped type *mitesaki tokyou 三手先斗きょう. Many amidadou have pyramidal roofs *hougyou yane 方形屋根, and a few have hipped roofs *yosemune-zukuri 寄棟造, and four have hip-and-gable roofs *irimoya-zukuri 入母屋造. The open aisles surrounding Amida altar were designed for worshippers to circumambulate while chanting Namu Amida Butsu 南無阿弥陀仏, meaning Homage to Amida Buddha.
 
 

 
REFERENCES:
*sanmaidou 三昧堂, *jougyoudou 常行堂
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