Byōdō-in Temple is one of the few surviving examples of Heian era (794-1185) architecture left in Japan. was originally a private residence, like most Japanese temples. It was converted into a temple by a member of the Fujiwara clan in 1052. The Phoenix Hall was added in 1053 to house the Amida Buddha image.

The temple complex was once much larger; most of the additional buildings burned down during the civil war in 1336. Originally, the pond’s beach stretched up to the Uji River, with mountains on the opposite side of the river as a background. The entire scenic area encompassing the temple was a representation of the Western Paradise or Pure Land on earth.

Today, the Phoenix Hall is virtually all that remains and Byodoin is one of the few examples of Heian temple architecture left in Japan. Japan has commemorated the longevity and cultural significance of Byodoin by displaying its image on the 10 yen coin. The Phoenix Hall, the great statue of Amida inside it, and several other items at Byodoin are Japanese National Treasures.

And it’s not just Japan that cherishes this temple. A full-size replica of Byodoin was built in 1968 at the Valley of the Temples on O’ahu, Hawaii. In December 1994, UNESCO listed the building as a World Heritage Site.