Prince Shotoku and Article seventeen of the Constitution /聖徳太子と十七条の憲法 No.6

This article can be read in about 15 minutes.

Horyuji Temple in Nara (Japan’s first world cultural heritage site)


This is the last article about Prince Shotoku and Article seventeen of the Constitution.

Why have we mentioned him and his achievement in the previous articles?
2021 was the 1400th anniversary of his death.
He passed away on April 8 622 A.D.
A lot of exhibitions on him and Buddhist rituals related to him were held across the country last year.

In this article, we will  focus on what happened after his death.
Unfortunately, there was no descendant of him anymore.
Iruka, the grandson of Umako who was Prince Shotoku’s great uncle, drove Prince Shotoku’s son, Yamashiro-no-ooenoou to his death.
Prince Shotoku’s son said that he would win if he fought against Iruka.
However, he would feel sorry for the farmers who suffered because of him.
So, he decided to commit suicide with all his family members at Horyuji Temple. 
Since Prince Shotoku’s wife was Umako’s daughter, Iruka killed off his cousins’ family.

On the other hand,  Prince Shotoku’s passion seems to have lived after his death.
For example, He established four facilities called Shikain in Osaka. 
These consist of Kyoden-in where people practice Buddhism, Seyaku-in where people get medicine. 
Then, Ryobyo-in, where people cure illness, and Hidden-in, where the elderly and orphans have been taken care of well.
It tells that these facilities were the origins of today’s temples, pharmacies, hospitals, and social well-being.

When it comes to the temples, there are still seven temples that Prince Shotoku was said to construct. 
We’ll share three temples here.

The first one is Chogosonnsiji Temple at Mt. Sigi in Nara.
According to Chronicles of Japan, Nihon-Shoki, Prince Shotoku achieved enlightenment and felt the Bishamonten.
It was a day of tiger, the month of tiger, year of the tiger in 582A.D., so there is a monument-shaped tiger at Mt. Sigi.
The Bishamonten is enshrined together with his wife and child, Kissho-ten and Zenisidouji, respectively.
It’s rare to be enshrined with the family.

The second one is Sitennoji Temple in Osaka.
During the battles over religion, Price Shotoku group’s situation was hopeless.
So, he carved four statues of Buddhas that protect four directions.
And he vowed that once they won this battle, he would build a temple where the statues were installed and devote himself to saving everyone.
As you may remember, Price Shotoku won, so he completed his vow in 593A.D.

The third one is Horyuji Temple in Nara.
His father, Emperor Yomei, promised to make a statue of Buddha and found a temple for it in order to pray for healing his illness.
But he passed away before he completed it.
So, Prince Shotoku and his aunt Empress Suiko succeeded in making his father’s dream realized in 607A.D.

When we visit Horyuji temple, we could time-travel to the Asuka period when Prince Shotoku lived. So, we suggest that you visit there.

Let’s imagine how people felt in the Asuka period when the Horyuji temple started construction.
They didn’t know anything about Buddhism.
But suddenly, a gigantic statue of Buddha was cast.
Also, a five-storied pagoda appeared in the town. Its height is about 32 meters.
Prince Shotoku started lecturing about Buddhism there.
People would feel that the new world had just started.
They might be excited about Buddhism. 
They might have expected that Buddhism would bring a peaceful world.

How about the new world from the carpenters’ view?
Their tools were limited when it comes to efficiency. 
There were no electric saw, no crane, and no plane in making the timber surface flat. 
We can easily imagine that it might be difficult to make parts of the same size. 
The carpenters might have had a strong passion for creating an honorable temple. 
Of course, the initiative was Prince Shotoku’s passion for making a peaceful world under the protection of Buddhism. 
Maybe their passion keeps the Horyuji temple well protected.

Some of you might have visited the Nikko Toshogu Shrine on your last visit.
Is it not a gorgeous, colorful, and decorative structure?
Compared to that, the Horyuji Temple is just simple and has subdued color pillars and less decoration. 
However, it looks more sophisticated and beautiful.

The wooden cloister in Horyuji Temple

It is my wish that you will see another beauty of Japan and feel the Asuka people’s passion with your own heart!

We might share only one aspect of him.
But still, it would be great if we could share this beloved Japanese hero.
How was it?

Here are the articles 15 to 17 from Article seventeen of the Constitution

Article 15
The way of the subordinates is being disinterested and focusing on public matters.
In general, when a person is selfish, people hold a grudge against him.
People who hold a grudge definitely avoids to concert with others. 
In the end, selfish people become an obstacle to address public matters.
People who hold a grudge against others ignore humans’ duties and break the laws.
Therefore, as mentioned in Article 1, people should keep the harmony regardless of ranks. 
Selflessness is the key of harmony.

The original one from Nihon-Shoki, Chronicles of Japan; 

Article 16
Making the people work for the government by choosing a suitable season is a good lesson from the ancient period.
Since people have enough time during winter, the government can oblige people to work for some public projects.
During spring to autumn, people  farm and produce cocoons, the government must not oblige people to work.
If people do not farm, we can not eat anything.
If people do not produce cocoons, we can not wear anything.

The original one from Nihon-Shoki, Chronicles of Japan; 十六曰、使民以時、古之良典。故冬月有間、以可使民。從春至秋、農桑之節。不可使民。其不農何食。不桑何服。

Article 17
Originally, things must not be unilaterally decided.
Be sure to discuss things with others.
But trivial things are not important. So, you don’t need to discuss these with others.
When we discuss the important issues, we should have self-doubt and think we might make some mistakes.
Therefore, when we discuss things together, words become rational.

The original one from Nihon-Shoki, Chronicles of Japan; 

Here is the previous article, no5.

Go to Article seventeen of the Constitution

【Translation for language learners of either English or Japanese】/英語・日本語学習者向け翻訳 えいご ・  にほんごがくしゅうしゃむ  ほんやく








一つ目は、奈良にある信貴山朝護孫子寺しぎさん ちょうごそんしじです。

ご記憶のとおり、聖徳太子は勝ったので、593年 に誓い通り寺院を建立されました。












『日本書紀』第二十二巻 豊御食炊屋姫天皇 推古天皇十二年





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