Chinese traditional architecture has always been a marvel for the eye: Byodo-in in Uji, Kyoto prefecture is just another proof of the elegant sophistication endemic to the Chinese architects. Water, mountains, abundant greenery around an unusual building for Americans, Europeans, and even Africans create a strong feeling of the Chinese cartoons from childhood coming into reality.
It is difficult to imagine for me how people come and praise their gods in the temple like Byodo-in. The structure does not seem to be very large, and cannot possibly contain many people. Moreover, the location seems to be a little bit solitary, so probably only those in power can visit this sacred place.
When I looked at the picture of the temple, the first thought that crossed my mind was that there can be nothing more Chinese. Byodo-in reflects traditions, customs, preferences and beliefs of the Chinese nation perfectly well. Moreover, it combines the features that can be considered a little bit contradictory: Strictness of the design but luxury in the decoration, modesty which should be a part of any temple which serves for religious purposes, however, it is quite challenging in the abundance of the delicate and at the same time very complicated elements.
In my opinion, the nature plays a pivotal role in the creating the feeling of sanctity and balanced power that Byodo-in carries in it. Mountains highlight the highness of the temple, its availability only to the chosen ones. Water in front of the building makes it even more inaccessible by the ordinary mortals. Harmony and majesty of this architectural beauty is striking.
Colors used signify its difference from all other buildings: White for purity and sanctity, red with a pink shade – for power and at the same time softness and gentleness, and grey roofs as if try to be similar to the grayish sky or fog that arises over the mountains, that is aiming high into the harbor of gods. The colors are complementary and do not make a sharp contrast with one another, however, there is a contrast with the nature. Nonetheless all elegance and sophistication of the building, it does not seem to fit well among the creation of nature. Brownish red color of the walls, poles, and other wooden elements of the temple make an unpleasant opposition to the various shades of green. However, on the other hand, the temple would not be as beautiful and mysterious as it is if surrounding nature did not highlight this beauty.
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The balance can be observed in everything, even in the elegant curves of the roof. Slightly lifted corners are decorated with the same heads of unknown creatures. The roof as well as each pillar of the temple is supported with the wooden combination that has yellow ends: The only presence of the yellow color – the symbol of the sun.
Fences along the sidebar structures, which remind me of the Chinese way of making the walls in their houses, look far from the temple-like style. Looking at them makes you think about looking at the roofed terraces of the cozy restaurants but definitely not at the place of god praise. This contradictory mixture of feelings is exactly what Byodo-in is. You look at it, and you like it immensely at once. You know that this is the temple, and you accept it. However, then you come closer. You look at the unusual pillars and exquisite roof, you notice the impeccable balance of the structure, and the harmony with the surrounding nature. You get the feeling that it is not quite a temple. You think that temples must possess more ecclesiastical features, however, you see none in Byodo-in. The temple in Uji is extraordinary, and the contradictory feelings that it arises only add up to its unequeness making it a real attraction for people from the whole world.