Skip to main content
Humanities LibreTexts

7.12: Asuka, Nara, Heian Periods Konpon Daito Pagoda (887 CE)

  • Page ID
  • The Konpon Daito Pagoda (7.55) is part of a temple complex located in Koya, Japan. The large wooden Kondo Hall temple is one of the significant buildings next door to the pagoda where ceremonies are held. However, the focus of the complex is the red and white lacquered Konpon Daito Pagoda built from 816 CE through 887 CE. Measuring 48.5 meters tall and 25 meters on each side, the pagoda has two tiers and was the first pagoda built in the tahoto style (an even number of stories). The lower section is square with a cylindrical second story and a pyramid-shaped roof. Although the balustrade on the second story appears to be functional, it is not accessible. Bells are attached to a shaft on top of the roof to chime in the breeze.

    Konpon Daito Pagoda
    7.55 Konpon Daito Pagoda

    Tahoto style pagodas were two stories even though it is empty and a pyramidal roof.

    Inside the pagoda are statues of the Buddha and statues of four Vajra Saints on the pillars situated at the four cardinal points. Sixteen columns are each decorated with elaborate paintings in large circles that wrap around the columns, forming a three-dimensional mandala, the sacred map of the cosmos drawn as Buddhist prayers. Most mandalas are two-dimensional, the three-dimensional mandala is very unusual and very beautiful.