kannondou 観音堂
KEY WORD : architecture / buildings & structures
A Buddhist temple hall dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy *Kannon 観音. Fukushima prefecture has six Kannondou, Chiba prefecture has three, and about fourteen other prefectures each have one. Among more than twenty extant halls, two are National Treasures: Eihouji 永保寺 Kannondou (1314) in Gifu prefecture and Kouonji 孝恩寺 Kannondou (late Kamakura period) in Osaka. Many others are designated important cultural properties. There is no strict uniformity of size or style. However, the majority are 3 x 3 bays square, but the actual dimensions vary from 4.72m to 7.90m. Kouonji Kannondou is a large square 5 x 5 bay (12.72m) structure; Wakamatsudera 若松寺 Kannondou (1509) in Yamagata prefecture is also 5 x 5 bays but is not quite square, being 12.73 x 12.12. Other 5 x 5 bay Kannondou are slightly smaller. Bandaiji 磐台寺 Kannondou (1570-73) in Hiroshima prefecture is the smallest hall at 3 x 3 bays. It is a rectangle and measures 3.11m x 5.18m. The largest is the Byoudouin 平等院 Kannondou (early Kamakura period) in Kyoto. Most have hipped roofs *yosemune-zukuri 寄棟造, eight have hip-and-gable roofs *irimoya-zukuri 入母屋造, and only two of the Kannondou listed as important cultural properties have pyramidal roofs *hougyou-zukuri 宝形造. Roofing materials in order of frequency are: thatch *kayabuki 茅葺, copper sheeting, doubanbuki 銅板葺, and tile roofing *hongawara-buki 本瓦葺; two have cypress bark roofing *hiwadabuki 桧皮葺; and one has thin, thickly layered shingles, *kokerabuki 柿葺. Halls with copper roof sheeting were originally thatch. Most halls have closely spaced rafters *shigedaruki 繁垂木, and double eaves *futanoki 二軒, while a few have widely spaced rafters *mabaradaruki 疎垂木, and single eaves *hitonoki 一軒. Zen style *zenshuuyou 禅宗様, characteristics are found in many Kannondou for example, Eihouji Kannondou, Toushunji 洞春寺 Kannondou (1430) in Yamaguchi prefecture and Shinkoumyouji 信光明寺 Kannondou (1478) in Aichi prefecture. Kouonji Kannondou is clearly wayou style *wayou 和様 on the exterior but has a smooth board ceiling *kagamitenjou 鏡天井, and other Zen characteristics in small details on the interior. The use of fan rafters *ougidaruki 扇垂木, that radiate toward the corners instead of being set parallel, are also identified with the Zen style. Kannondou with fan rafters include: Kousouji 高倉寺 (14c) in Saitama prefecture, Shinkoumyouji, Shouunji 祥雲寺 (1431), in Ehime prefecture; and Houraiji 鳳来寺 (1803) in Chiba prefecture. Bracket complexes *tokyou 斗きょう, vary from building to building. The majority are the 3-on-1, non-projecting type *hiramitsudo 平三斗. Simple boat-shaped brackets *funahijiki 舟肘木, and 3-on-1 at right angles *demitsudo 出三斗, are numerous. One-stepped bracket complexes *degumi 出組, are rare, and only two buildings have a large bearing blocks with a bracket arm *daito hijiki 大斗肘木, although they appear on the enclosed pent roof *mokoshi 裳階, of one building. In Kannondou with distinctive Zen style elements, a few have two-stepped bracket complexes *futatesakigumi 二手先組. Most buildings have plank floors but Shouunji Kannondou. Toushunji Kannondou, Shinkoumyouji Kannondou and Jourokuji 丈六寺 Kannondou (1648) in Tokushima prefecture, have hard-packed earthen floors covered with stone *ishijiki 石敷, or tiles *kawara 瓦.

Eihouji Kannondou 永保寺観音堂 (Gifu)


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