bentendou 弁天堂
KEY WORD : architecture / buildings & structures
Also called benzaitendou 弁才天堂. A small structure that houses an image of Benten 弁天 (Sk: Sarasvati, *Benzaiten 弁才天), a goddess of wealth, happiness, wisdom and music. Previously, Benten had been the deity of rivers, and, thus many miniature shrines were constructed close to rivers, lakes, and even the sea. One example is Oku-no-in 奥の院 Bentendou (16c) in Fukushima prefecture, which is 3 x 3 bays (4.93 x 4.93m). This Bentendou resembles the plan of an *amidadou 阿弥陀堂, with an altar and two rear pillars *raigoubashira 来迎柱, which are larger in diameter than those on the periphery of the building but in line with them. This example has slight variations of the Aizu 会津 district Zen style *zenshuuyou 禅宗様 in Fukushima prefecture. Formerly known as Enzouin 円蔵院 Oku-no-in, it is built on high posts set on a stone podium and surrounded by a shallow plank veranda approached by seven timber steps. The roof is pyramidal style *hougyou-zukuri 宝形造.
Another example is Choujuji 長寿寺 Bentendou (1418) in Shiga prefecture, which is 1 x 1 bay (2.73 x 2.56m). This Bentendou has three 3-on-1 bracket complexes parallel to the wall plane *hiramitsuto 平三斗, between which are bearing block capped struts *kentozuka 間斗束. The structure also has single eaves *hitonoki 一軒; a hip-and-gable roof *irimoya-zukuri 入母屋造; and is covered by cypress bark *hiwadabuki 桧皮葺. There is an undulating bargeboard *karahafu 唐破風, on the front eave and a sliding lattice panel koushido 格子戸, which fills the front bay. It is set upon foot plates in grid pattern with the extended ends doiban 土居盤, placed on a stone podium to support the structure. The corner posts are attached to the points of intersection of the footplates. This method of securing a structure to its foundation is often seen in small Shinto shrine buildings. A third example is Kouzenji 光前寺 Bentendou (1576) in Nagano prefecture. It is a square, 1 x 1 bay (1.94 x 1.94m) structure erected on a timber platform *hamayuka 浜床. The front bay has a plank wall about 1/3 up from the bottom of the bay and lattice *koushi 格子, fills the remainder of the bay. Non-penetrating tie beams *nageshi 長押, stretch above this and are placed along the sides and across the back. Penetrating tie beams *nuki 貫, are used on the four facades and are finished with nosings *kibana 木鼻. The bracket complexes are the unstepped 3-on-1 type *mitsudo tokyou 三斗斗きょう, and the single eaves have closely spaced rafters *shigedaruki 繁垂木. The hip-and-gable roof is expansive, with the deep eave curves characteristic of the Muromachi period.


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