Also known as Saga Shakado, Seiryoji Temple was constructed in 895 as a replica of Wutai Shan or Qingliang Shan of China. The temple has as its principal image a wooden standing statute of Shaka (National Treasure. 162 cm high), one of the three most famous Nyorai (Buddha or tathagata) of Japan.
Seiryo-ji was originally the villa of Toru of Minamoto, inspiration for Genji, of The Tale of Genji
The main hall was reconstructed to honor the mother of the fifth Tokugawa shogun
It can be accessible by bus.
The temple is a fifteen minute walk from Arashiyama Station on the Keifuku line.
The temple's principal image has an unusual background but is now considered historically invaluable. A Shaka statue commissioned by the ancient Indian king Udayana was brought to China. In 985, a Japanese monk named Chonen had an accurate replica of the statue made in Sung dynasty China which he brought to Japan. With morions in its eyes, crystaline ears and ropy hair, the image is quite different than other Buddhist images common in Japan. Later, a number of Buddhist images were made as “Seiryoji-style” images, in imitation of the statue.
An academic study in 1953 highlighted the statue’s aspect as a human phantom; its ear holes and nasal cavity are connected, and models of internal organs made of silk that were found inside are believed to be the oldest of this kind in the world. This aspect gave another name “Ikimi Nyorai (flesh and blood Buddha)” to the very unique image.
The wooden statue is designated a National Treasure, and is an example of a hibutsu, or hidden Buddha. It is exhibited on the 8th every month (from 11:00) and in April, May, October and November.
The trinity of Amitābha statues is a National Treasure, and a number of other statue have been designated as National Treasures or Important Cultural Properties. Within the Scripture House is a revolving sutra cabinet Rinzo, which holds the complete version of the Buddhist scriptures called the Issaikyozo, which literally means the 5408 scrolls.