support this research
80130-0007 - Buddhist Monks in Japan, 1930s

Kyoto 1930s
Buddhist Monks

Artist Unknown
Publisher Unknown
Medium Gelatin Silver Print
Period Showa
Location Kyoto
Image No. 80130-0007
Purchase Digital File

Buddhist monks walk in procession on the grounds of Tofuku-ji, a buddhist temple in Kyoto.

The writing on their bags reads Daihonzan Tofuku-ji Hondo Saiken (大本山東福寺本堂再建), “reconstruction of the hondo (main hall) of Daihonzan Tofuku-ji.” They were apparently on their way to the city to collect donations for reconstruction work on the temple.

Daihonzan Tofuku-ji is the head temple of the Tofuku-ji School of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism. Originally established in 1236 and constructed between 1236 and 1255, it was destroyed by fires in 1319, 1334, and 1336. In the late 1350s it was rebuilt according to its original plans.

When chancellor Kujo Michiie (九条道家, 1192–1252) established the temple, he was inspired by Todai-ji and Kofuku-ji, two major temples in Nara. Tofuku-ji’s name was actually created by combining the characters for To of Todai-ji and Fuku of Kofuku-ji.

Although a fire once again devastated the temple in 1881 (Meiji 14), it was reconstructed. The reconstruction work took place over several decades and was finally completed in 1934 (Showa 9). This image is a wonderful historical document of some of the fund-raising that took place for this reconstruction.

The temple still survives and is a representative example of a medieval Zen temple. It is one of the largest and most important of the Kyoto Zen temples.1

see current map

I haven’t found the exact location where this photograph was taken yet, so the Google map shows the location of Tofukuji.


1 Rinzai-Obaku Zen. Temple Name: Tofuku-ji 東福寺. Retrieved on 2008-04-14.


Leave a Comment

Reference for Citations

Duits, Kjeld (). Kyoto 1930s: Buddhist Monks, OLD PHOTOS of JAPAN. Retrieved on March 22, 2023 (GMT) from

I have a small favor to ask

Old Photos of Japan aims to be your personal museum for Japan's visual heritage to increase our understanding of Japanese culture and society.

Finding, acquiring, scanning, restoring, researching and conserving these vintage images, and making the imagery and research freely available online, takes serious time, money and effort.

I do this without charging for access, selling user data, or running ads.

Your support helps to make this possible, and ensures that this important visual heritage of Japan will not be lost and forgotten.

If you can, please consider supporting Old Photos of Japan with a regular amount each month. Or become a volunteer.

Thank you,
Kjeld Duits

support this research

Explore More


Kyoto 1890s
Bronze Ware Craftsmen

Four bronze ware craftsmen at work in the workshop of Noboru Nogawa (能川登) in Kyoto, founded in 1825 (Bunsei 8).


Shinto Priest

An absolutely gorgeous photograph of a Shinto priest wearing vestments.


Family in Formal Wear

Ceremonial Taisho era (1912–1926) photo of a family in formal wear for family members’ fiftieth wedding anniversary (金婚記念, kinkon kinen).

Add Comment

There are currently no comments on this article.