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Original Site of East and West Pagodas of the Kasuga Shrine

Site of the West Tower (The main museum building in back)

West pagoda site
(viewed from behind the Nara Buddhist Sculpture Hall)

Site of the East Tower (The annex building on the back right side)

East pagoda site (viewed from behind the Ritual Bronzes Gallery toward the right-hand side)

The north area of the first Torii gate in the Kasuga Taisha Shrine is the historical site where the east and west pagodas were once constructed. At present, the foundation stones of the original corridor and gate remain along the south side of the Ritual Bronzes Gallery of the Museum. The west pagoda was established by the regent Fujiwara no Tadazane in 1116 (Eikyū 4) and was also called the “Denka no Gotō” (The Lord’s Pagoda); the east pagoda was established by Emperor Toba in 1140 (Hōen 6) and was also called the “In no Gotō” (Retired Emperor’s Pagoda).

The pagodas were burned down in 1180 (Jishō 4) by Taira no Shigehira. They were later rebuilt, but burned down again by lightning in 1411 (ei 18) and never rebuilt thereafter.

The proportions of both pagodas were nearly the same as the five-storied pagoda in the Kōfuku-ji Temple. It is thought that each side of the first story was approximately 8.6 meters wide and the height approximately 50 meters. A double corridor was added to the south front of both pagodas with a towering gate in the center. The east, west, and north sides were surrounded by a wall approximately 70–80 meters in length. The original appearance of the pagodas can be seen in such paintings as the Kasuga Miya Mandala.

Kasuga Shaji Mandala (detail), Nara National Museum
The east pagoda can be seen in the back, the west tower in the foreground, and the first Torii gate of the Kasuga Shrine in the lower right.

Kasuga Shaji Mandala (detail), Nara National Museum
The east pagoda can be seen in the back, the west tower in the foreground, and the first Torii gate of the Kasuga Shrine in the lower right corner.