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Temple of the Attainment of Happiness (Shōfukuji)

Artist/maker unknown, Japanese

Made in Nara Prefecture, Japan, Asia

Muromachi Period (1392-1573)


Wood, plaster

19 × 22 feet (579.1 × 670.6 cm)

Curatorial Department:
East Asian Art

* Gallery 344, Asian Art, third floor (SmithKline Beecham Gallery; Baldeck Garden)

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with Museum funds, 1929

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This Buddhist temple of the Muromachi period (1392-1573) was built in 1398 and extensively repaired in the latter half of the seventeenth century. It stood originally in Katagiri village in Nara Prefecture as a subsidiary part of the great Buddhist temple Höryüji. When the Shöfukuji temple building was dismantled in 1928, the Museum acquired its wooden elements.

The building as it now stands in the Museum follows the original plan in everything but the roof. It is supported by twelve cypress posts resting on stone bases, with white plaster walls on three sides. The front can be closed off by three wooden latticed doors (shitomi-do), the upper halves of which open horizontally inward and are held open by hooks from the ceiling. There are also two side entrances with sliding wooden doors (ama-do). The hipped roof is covered with pottery tiles and two demon, mask tiles (oni-ita) intended to frighten away evil spirits.

The center of the temple holds the main altar (butsudan), where a lacquered and gilded wood statue of Amida Buddha presides. The side niches (tokonoma) are used as subsidiary altars and also hold figures of buddhas or bodhisattvas. The standing Amida Buddha on the left is a particularly fine example of Kamakura period (1185-1333) sculpture. Before the main altar are Buddhist ritual objects of the esoteric Shingon sect, such as vases of flowers and an altar table with ceremonial utensils.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.