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Japanese Tera (Buddhist Temple)

August 21st, 2009

A Buddhist Temple (Tera) in Sarnath, India.

Buddhist temples are the most numerous, famous, and important religious buildings in Japan. The Japanese word for a Buddhist temple is tera (寺?).

Buddhist temples, like any other religious structures, need to be organized in order to best serve their various purposes. The most primary space in any Buddhist temple complex is the sacred space, where images of Buddhas and bodhisattvas are kept, and where important rituals are performed. This area is always separated off from the areas accessible to the lay worshippers, though the distance between the two and the manner of their separation is quite varied. In many temples, there is little more than a wooden railing dividing the sacred space with that of the laypeople, but in many others, there is a significant distance, perhaps a gravelled courtyard, between the two.

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