The Phoenix Hall, Byodoin Temple, Uji city, Japan

Uji (宇治) is a small city located between Kyoto and Nara, two of Japan’s most famous historical and cultural centers. Its proximity to these two former capitals resulted in Uji’s early development as a cultural center in its own right. The two main places (Byōdō-in Temple and Ujigami Shrine) are both Unesco World Heritage sites and both attract a lot of visitors.

Byōdō-in Temple (平等院, Byōdō-in) is a perfect example of Buddhist Pure Land (Jodo) architecture. Together with its garden, the temple represents the Pure Land Paradise.  The Phoenix Hall literally represents the mythical Chinese Phoenix (Ho-o) descending to earth, with the central hall being the body of the bird, the lateral corridors its wings and the tail represented by the rear corridor. Above the central hall on the roof is a pair of male and female bronze phoenix.  The hall is now featured on the back of the Japanese ten yen coin.

The best way to capture its beauty is probably to try to get its reflection in the pond in front of it on a clear and calm day. Of course, a CPL filter may come in handy.