Komyo-ji is a new temple for the
Pure Land sect of Buddhism, replacing replacing an aging 250-year-old
structure. Remnants of the old temple are seen throughout the temple site,
such as the bell tower and stone foundation walls, through which one winds
one's way to the temple. Located on the island of Shikoku on the
Hiuichi Sea, it is on the route to many famous springs.
The temple consists of a square
laminated wood structure that is an interpretation of traditional Japanese
temple architecture and joinery. It is different from Ando's usual
language of monolithic concrete construction through its assemblage of
parts that compose a whole. In addition to the temple, the complex also
contains adjacent buildings for community meetings, offices and housing
for the monks. These surrounding volumes are constructed in concrete.
To enter the temple one
traverses a wooden plank over the natural spring water that surrounds the
temple. The wooden plank is accessed only after passing through the entry
hall of the community building.
Once inside the temple the
visitor then circulates around the temple proper, between the inner facade
containing the sacred space of the temple, which is defined by wood and a
screen of frosted glass, and the outer facade of the temple. Through clear
glass between the wood of the outer facade light dapples the wooden floor
of the corridor, shortening and elongating, ever changing with the time of
The interior of the sacred space
of the temple is a large square space with 3 layers of interlocking beams
that are supported by 16 columns in 4 groups. Lined with tatami mats, the
space has been compared to that of a forest.
The water surrounding the temple
is serene yet at the same time dynamic. It quietly reflects the
wooden structure into it, extending the height of the temple, and at the
same time, is a surface that reflects ever changing light which dances on
the monolithic concrete walls of the administrative buildings of the
temple compound and through the glass between the wooden slats of the
temple building into the sacred space of the temple, creating a poetic
synthesis between materials and light.
with special thanks to Ko Teramoto
How to visit
From JR Matsuyama station in
Matsuyama take JR Ishizuchi express line (56 min.) or JR Yosan-sen local
line (138 min) to JR Iyo-saijo station. From here the temple is a 10
minute walk or a 3 minute taxi ride.