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Tiles Link Ancient Buddhist Temples in Japan

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Japan roof tile ornamentRITTO, JAPAN—The Asahi Shimbun reports that circular roof tiles decorated with flowers and pieces of ornamental ridges have been unearthed at what may have been the site of a late seventh-century Buddhist temple at the Hachiya archaeological site in Shiga Prefecture. The ornaments are similar to those found in the Horyuji temple compound, and the Chuguji temple ruins, which are both located to the south, in Nara Prefecture. The tiles from all of the sites are thought to have been made with the same wooden mold. The area surrounding the Hachiya ruins was once ruled by the Mononobe clan, who were opposed to the spread of Buddhism and were pushed out of power by the Soga clan in the late sixth century. Shotoku Taishi, who lived from A.D. 574 to 622, fought on the side of the Soga clan. He built the famed Buddhist Horyuji temple in 607. The tiles suggest he may have also built a temple on the Mononobe lands, which had been awarded to him. “The discovery (in Ritto) is physical evidence that the temple was founded under the strong influence of the Horyuji temple,” explained Hiromichi Hayashi of the University of Shiga Prefecture. To read about another recent discovery in Japan, go to “Samurai Nest Egg.”

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