The Info List - Daibutsuyō

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(大仏様, lit. great Buddha style) is a Japanese religious architectural style which emerged in the late 12th or early 13th century. Together with Wayō
and Zenshūyō, it is one of the three most significant styles developed by Japanese Buddhism on the basis of Chinese models. Originally called tenjikuyō (天竺様, lit. Indian style), because it had nothing to do with India it was rechristened by scholar Ōta Hirotarō during the 20th century, and the new term stuck.[1] Ōta derived the name from Chōgen's work, particularly Tōdai-ji's Daibutsuden. Soon abandoned after its creator's death, probably because it didn't harmonize with Japanese tastes, it nonetheless influenced other building styles with its rational solutions.[2] The combination of wayō and daibutsuyō in particular became so frequent that sometimes it is classed separately by scholars under the name Shin-wayō (新和様, new wayō).[3] This grandiose and monumental style is the antithesis of the simple and traditional wayō style. The Nandaimon at Tōdai-ji
and the Amida-dō at Jōdo-ji in Ono are its best extant examples.[2][4]


1 History 2 Features 3 See also 4 Examples of the Daibutsuyō
style 5 Notes 6 Bibliography

History[edit] The style was introduced by priest Chōgen, who in 1180 directed the reconstruction of Tōdai-ji, which had been destroyed during the Genpei war.[2] Chōgen
had just come back from the last of his three travels to China and therefore chose as a basis for the work Song Dynasty architecture. He was supported in his innovative work by first shōgun Minamoto no Yoritomo. Of his work at the temple only three structures remain, the already mentioned Nandaimon, which remains the best Daibutsuyō
example, the Kaizandō and the Hokkedō.[2] The gate's most characteristic features are the six-tier bracket groups (tokyō) projecting directly out of the columns and connected to each other by ties as long as the facade.[2] During the Edo period
Edo period
the temple's Main Hall, the Daibutsuden, was also rebuilt in the style, to which it would give its name. Chōgen
built other buildings in this style near and around Nara, of which the Amida-dō at Jōdo-ji in Ono is a good extant example.[2] The style declined quickly after its creator's death, probably because it did not agree with Japanese tastes. Structural elements are treated as design elements, and the building's deliberate roughness is supposed to be part of its beauty, but the concept was probably too alien to Chōgen's contemporaries, and was rejected.[5] Features[edit]

Nandaimon (detail). Note the exposed tōrihijiki

The Daibutsuyō
style was short-lived but innovative, and many of the ideas it introduced were adopted by other styles as well. In particular, during the Muromachi period
Muromachi period
the traditional Wayō
style was so heavily influenced that the mix of the two is sometimes called Shin-wayō.

Thick woodwork and imposing general look Use of penetrating tie beams

During the Heian period temples were built using only non-penetrating tie beams (nageshi (長押)) made to fit around columns and pillars and nailed. The daibutsuyō style, first, and the zenshūyō style, later, replaced them with penetrating tie-beams (nuki (貫)), which actually pierced the column, and were therefore much more effective against earthquakes.[6][7] The nageshi was however retained as a purely decorative element.[8]

Thick, visible structural elements with decorative function

As already mentioned, many structural elements are left uncovered and have a decorative function. For example, the roof's supporting members are not covered by a ceiling and are therefore fully visible from within the temple.[7] The Nandaimon's stabilizing bracket ties (tōrihijiki (通り肘木))[9] which run the entire width of the gate are also fully visible (see photo on the right). (Other styles hide them, at least partially.) Structural elements are much thicker than in Zen


The sashihijiki (挿肘木) is a bracket arm inserted directly into a pillar instead of resting onto a supporting block on top of a pillar, as was normal in the preceding wayō style (see photo on the right). At Tōdai-ji, both the Nandaimon and the Daibutsuden have six sashihijiki one on top of the other (mutesaki tokyō). (On the subject, see also the article Tokyō).


Another detail unique to this style are the ōgidaruki (扇垂木, lit. fan rafters).[7] The rafters supporting each roof corner spread from a single point, in a fan-like pattern.


The tips of each protruding beam ends in a nose-like structure called kibana (木鼻, lit. wooden nose).[7] See also[edit]

Japanese Buddhist architecture
Japanese Buddhist architecture
- Heian period Wayō Setchūyō Zenshūyō

Examples of the Daibutsuyō

Tōdai-ji's Nandaimon

Tōdai-ji's Kaizan-dō

Tōdai-ji's Hokke-dō

Jōdo-ji's Amida-dō


^ Parent, Mary Neighbour. Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users System. Daibutsuyou, retrieved on 6-4-11 ^ a b c d e f Nishi, Hozumi (1996:20-21) ^ Fletcher & Cruickshank 1996, p=738 ^ Fletcher & Cruickshank 1996, p=737 ^ Kudō, Yoshiaki. "Daibutsuyō". Nihon Hyakka Zensho. Shogakukan. Retrieved 6 April 2011.  ^ Hamashima, Masashi (1999). Jisha Kenchiku no Kanshō Kiso Chishiki (in Japanese). Tokyo: Shibundō. p. 160.  ^ a b c d e Nishi, Hozumi (1996:24-25) ^ Parent, Mary Neighbour. Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users System. Nageshi, retrieved on 4-6-11 ^ Parent, Mary Neighbour. Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users System. Tooshihijiki, retrieved on 4-18-11


Fletcher, Sir Banister; Cruickshank, Dan (1996) [1896]. Sir Banister Fletcher's a history of architecture (20th illustrated ed.). Architectural Press. ISBN 0-7506-2267-9. Retrieved 2009-11-11.  "JAANUS". Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users System.  Nishi, Kazuo; Hozumi, Kazuo (1996) [1983]. What is Japanese architecture? (illustrated ed.). Kodansha International. ISBN 4-7700-1992-0. Retrieved 2009-11-11.  Young, David; Young, Michiko Kimura; Yew, Tan Hong (2004). Introduction to Japanese architecture. Periplus Asian architecture (illustrated ed.). Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 0-7946-0100-6. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 

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Elements of Japanese architecture


Buddhist Buke Daibutsuyō Gassho Giyōfū Hachiman Hirairi Hiyoshi (Hie) Imperial Crown style
Imperial Crown style
(Teikanyōshiki) Irimoya Ishi-no-ma Kasuga Kibitsu Nagare Ōbaku
Zen Setchūyō Shinden Shinmei Shinto Shoin Sukiya Sumiyoshi Taisha Wayō Zenshūyō

Model of Himeji Castle

Types of building

Butsuden Castle Chashitsu Dō Haiden Heiden Hokora Hōkyōintō Kura Kyōzō Machiya Main Hall Minka Setsumatsusha Shōrō Tahōtō Japanese pagoda Yagura

Roof styles

Hidden Irimoya Karahafu


Burdock piling Chigi Disordered piling Engawa Fusuma Hisashi Irimoya-zukuri Irori Jinmaku Katōmado Katsuogi Kuruwa Mokoshi Moya Nakazonae Namako wall Nightingale floor Onigawara Ranma Shōji (washi) Sōrin Tamagaki Tatami Tokonoma Tokyō Tsumairi Shibi

Gates Approaches

Genkan Kairō Karamon Mon Nijūmon Niōmon Rōmon Sandō Sanmon Sōmon Torii (Mihashira)


Chashitsu Daidokoro Mizuya Shoin Toilets Washitsu


Butsudan Byōbu Chabudai Emakimono Furo Futon Getabako Kaidan dansu Kamado Kamidana Kichō Kotatsu Misu Noren Sudare Tamaya Tansu Zabuton Zafu

Outdoor objects

(Temizuya) Ishigantō Komainu Tōrō


Ken Koku Ri Shaku Sun


Architectural Institute of Japan Japan Institute of Architects Metabolist Movement

Related topics

Groups of Traditional Buildings Iki Japanese garden (rock (Zen)) Ryokan Sentō Wabi-sabi Yabo

National Treasures

Castles Residences Shrines Temples Other structures

v t e

Buddhist temples in Japan

Japanese Buddhist architecture

Architectonic elements

hidden roof hisashi irimoya kaerumata: see nakazonae kairō karahafu karesansui kentozuka: see nakazonae komainu katōmado mokoshi moya nakazonae Niō or Kongōrikishi sandō shichidō garan shōrō sōrin tokyō tōrō onigawara

Mon (gates)

karamon nijūmon niōmon rōmon sanmon sōmon torii


Chinjusha chōzuya/temizuya -dō main hall (kon-dō, hon-dō, butsuden) kuri kyōzō or kyō-dō shoin

Japanese pagodas

gorintō hōkyōintō hōtō kasatōba sotōba muhōtō tahōtō


Daibutsuyō Wayō Setchūyō Shoin-zukuri Shin-Wayō Zenshūyō Ōbaku


A-un ken

Schools and objects of worship

Major schools

Jōdo Nichiren Shingon Tendai


Sōtō Ōbaku Rinzai

Nanto rokushū

Jōjitsu Hossō Kusha Kegon Ritsu Sanron

Objects of worship

Amida Nyōrai Benzaiten Dainichi Nyorai Jizō Kannon Marishi-ten Shaka Nyorai Shitennō (Four Kings) Twelve Heavenly Generals
Twelve Heavenly Generals
(Jūni Shinshō) Yakushi Nyorai

Other elements


kei (ritual gong) mokugyō


bussokuseki butsudan Glossary of Japanese Buddhism Japanese Buddhist pantheon jingū-ji m