Photo/IllutrationAn antique drawing of Hoo-do, or Phoenix Hall, of Byodoin temple that is owned by Mitsuo Naoi shows that there was a bridge inside the Biro corridor, at the top center of the sheet, before a renovation from 1902 to 1907. (Provided by the Byodoin temple)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

UJI, Kyoto Prefecture--A bridge rather than the current elaborate walkway once led over the pond to the rear of the 1,000-year-old Hoo-do, or Phoenix Hall, of Byodoin temple, which is depicted on the 10-yen (9 cents) coin.

Mitsuo Naoi, 83, a master carpenter specializing in Shinto and Buddhism architecture, bought nine drawings at an antiquarian book store in the Kanda district of Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward about 30 years ago.

Monsho Kamii, head priest of the temple, examined them in 2016.

“I am excited to see the valuable drawings that show what the building was like before the renovation in the Meiji Era (1868-1912),” he said.

Two of the nine drawings of the temple purchased by Naoi, who lives in Echizen, Fukui Prefecture, show the old bridge.

One of the drawings is inscribed “22nd year of the Meiji Era,” which was 1889.

Naoi, who has been involved in the restoration of Yakushiji temple in Nara, collects old drawings of temples and shrines.

At the top center of the drawings is the Biro, a windowed corridor, which has an earth floor and a 6-meter-long bridge crossing over the pond to the rear of the Phoenix Hall. Now, the structure has an elevated walkway which crosses over a small area of water.

The bridge was replaced with the elaborate corridor during a renovation from 1902 to 1907.

Byodoin temple staffers also noted the name of the author of the drawings and discovered a further five identical to Naoi’s in the Kiko section, part of the Special Collections Room of Tokyo Metropolitan Central Library.

The Kiko section features materials related to Kiyoyoshi Kiko (1845-1907), a university lecturer in the history of architecture in the Meiji Era.

The Phoenix Hall, especially the corridor consisting of relatively new materials, is likely to have undergone a significant transformation since its completion in 1053.