The Buddhist Temple established as Ritsuji meaning ‘The Rules Temple.’ It was founded by the Ritsu sect a few miles away from the city of Nara, Japan. Ganjin and the Ganjin Men built the temple in the 8th century. This temple was believed to have a connection to other buildings which were around it. The temple symbolized the Buddhist religion, and the Golden Hall known as‘Kondo’ was used as its center. The Rye-do’s, the smaller buildings around the complex, were built later.

The Knossos Palace was also a temple located on the hill in the island of Crete. It was built between 1700-1400 BC and is therefore much older than the Tododaiji temple. The Knossos was a Minoan cultural and political center with a maze design used inside, and the frontal appearance looked rather impressive outside. It had architectural techniques which did not have a specific pattern.

This paper will discuss the differences and similarities that exist between the Temple in Nara, Japan, and the Knossos Palace in Crete, Greece. They would be compared in terms of the idea of space; the mystical background; the architectural peculiarities as well as their functional purposes. 

The Temple came into existence when a Buddhist monk, Ganjin, came from China to Japan and set up a platform which was aimed at ordinating monks. Ganjin opened up a school in 759 where the monks should be taught and study. The main auditorium of the temple was made up by the transferring some parts of the Heijo-kyu Palace which had been  in the city of Nara. The construction technique used in the temple was known as the entasis when the main central pillar of the building was raised. It was a Roman and Greek construction technique used in the building of the main hall of the temple (Tamura & Jeffrey 2000). In the main hall, there were the statues of three Buddhists: the standing figures of Senju-Kannon and Yakushi-Nyorai as well as  and the seated statue of the Rushana Buddha.

The Temple is a one storey building, and the current Daibutsuden (Great Buddha Hall) is considered the worlds’ largest wooden building. The structure has also been rebuilt twice, following its destruction by fire. The temple was built using precious materials such as bronze and gold, and thus, the construction of the temple influenced the Japanese economy negatively. The temple was constructed by the Chinese; while the Knossos Palace was constructed by the Greeks.

Ritsu was a sect of Nara, and the representatives of this sect frequently used the Temple for their worship. It was during the Meiji period that the Ritsu sect was finally incorporated by the Shigon sect in the Japanese government. The Meiji period was between 1868 -1912 and represented the Japanese Empire’s first half. The word Meiji means 'enlightened rule.'

In 1868, the leaders of the Meiji period were able to boost the morale and also win the new government’s financial support where it had five main provisions. These provisions included the establishment of the assemblies which were deliberative; the involvement of all the classes in the carrying out of all the state affairs; the sumptuary laws revocation and restrictions on employments for different classes; the evil customs replacement; and the search for international knowledge. The temple is the only temple which has existed up to date, after having resisted the government. It should be pointed out that it has also retained the identity as being a Ritsu temple. The temple was considered to have been the first temple to dedicate its religion to the Chinese denominations of Buddhist (Tamura & Jeffrey 2000). The Temple is surrounded by several other buildings. These structures include:

Kondo (Main Hall)

The Hondo or Kondo known as the Golden Hall which is situated in front of the South Great Gate called Nandaimon. The South Great Gate is the major entry to the temple. It is worth mentioning that it was reconstructed to mark the 1200 year anniversary since the death of the founder of the Temple. This one story Golden Hall is a nationwide treasure to the Japanese since it helped in the retaining of the Nara period structure. The hall front has a colonnade made up of eight pillars which has a very magnificent appearance for ages with the main images of the Yakushinyoraizo, the Senjukannozo, and the Rushanabutuzazo. The hall also has the statues of Bonten and Taishakuten that are standing on each side of the main images. The Shinennozo statue is also found on the corners of the hall.

Kodo (Lecture Hall)

The Kodo which is the Lecture Hall was the house of the prominent Buddha. The Kodo is situated just behind the Hondo. In the past times, it also served as a store for the artistic assets that were not of a great value. This hall was used in the provision of trainings on cultural practices and believes.


The Koro which is also known as Shariden is situated in the eastern side of both the Hondo/Kondo and the Kodo. It is a multi-storied structure constructed in the 13th century. It was used to perform different rituals, such as Uchiwamaki which was a 'Fan Scattering' ceremony. 


The Sobo is the long building where the priest used to sleeping. It is found in the east of the Koro but was later rebuilt and becamein a chapel, Rye-do.


This was the Sutra Storehouse which was constructed during the Nara period.

The Knossos Palace

Knossos is a prominent palace building that was established in the city of Heraklion found in Crete, Greece. This palace was built between 1700 – 1400 BC; thus, it is older than the Temple. This building is considered a nationwide treasure as the structure was constructed during the Bronze Age. The Knossos Palace was commonly known as the Palace of Minos. It has a very long history which is connected with the habitation of the humans who are thought to have begun the original founding of the Neolithic settlement in the 7000 BC. The palace grew in size by the 19th to the 16th centuries BC. At that times, the settlement was made up of a monumental religious and administrative building, like the palace, including all the 5000-8000 people who were known to be surrounding it. Archaeologists strongly believed that the palace served as the administrative and the religious centre or the combination of the two purposes.

It was constructed using stones such as Ashlar blocks of limestone or rather gypsum. The Knossos Palace is a fivestoried structure that had various rooms. All rooms and corridors were well light by the natural light. The layout of the initial palace has been lost due to the various modifications that have been done on the buildings following its destruction by both earthquake and fire.

The use of the architectural techniques was not formulaic or rather symmetrical due to several modifications of the buildings within the place. The first building of the palace was destroyed by the earthquake and later rebuilt, thus losing the design of the initial Knossos Palace. Later on, it was destroyed again but this time by fire. Hence, the consequent amendment of the entire palace building due to the destructions, have greatly interfered with the architectural techniques and designs of the initial palace building.

The palace building had about one thousand and three hundred rooms; thus, it was a center of the political, religious, social, and economic activities for the Minoan citizens. Among the numerous rooms in the palace, there was a special room which was set aside for the political functions. It should be stressed that, in the Minoan culture, politics played a crucial role in the lives of all civilians.

The design of this palace is amazing. It has a courtyard surrounded by the four wings, with the living rooms, royal quarters, repositories, banquet, shrines, throne room, and the stores situated off the court yard. Frescoes were used to decorate the walls of the room as well as corridors, thus making them look beautiful.. The Knossos Palace was the place where Minotaur, was a monster with a human body and a bull’s head, lived. Every year, the six maidens and the six youths were sent to King Minos in order to pay tributes. They were usually tormented by the monster, Minotaur.

The Buddhists in the T%u014Dsh%u014Ddai-ji Temple strongly believed in time and space. Their god known as Mahakala was considered to be in charge of time and space, that is why, these two notions were treated as something very precious.  The Buddhists maximized the use of their available space by creating the form and alignment of the separate Kondo’s within their temple. They believed that each room had a totally different purpose. For instance,  the main hall was rectangular since they wanted very much to keep it just as simple as it was so as to ensure that it was a Buddhist temple. The Buddhists loved and believed in nature. There were a great amount of different trees and a garden which surrounded the temple. They could walk in the garden in order to rest or meditate(Tamura & Jeffrey 2000).

This is illustrated by the lay-out of their structures which were located in the compound of their temple. They have a central room which was secluded and was mainly used for prayers. This room was situated in a strategic quiet place which is secluded so as to ensure that there is no destruction from the surrounding environment. This was to enable people to concentrate and meditate with their gods about their thoughts while in the temple.    

The Knossos Palace

The interior of the complex was created as a maze since the Minoans did not want any congestion of buildings. The buildings and rooms were supposed to be spacious enough. King Minos and the Minoan civilians wanted to keep distance between the interior and exterior set-ups of the palace. They also accepted the concept of space in a different way unlike the constructors of the T%u014Dsh%u014Ddai-ji Temple.

All the monks who came to Japan were believed to have arrived from the sea, including Ganjin himself. This is because these monks travelled widely across the sea in order to carry out their missionary work. This work was full of challenges as well as hardships (Campbell 2003). Some of the monks died while trying to cross the large water body masses, and some became blind. There is a suggestion that the monks became blind due to the sea water. Of course, it is not true. The mission was rather difficult and exhausted. For instance, Ganjin attempted to cross the sea from China to Japan six times over a period of twelve years (Lowenstein 1996).            

They taught medicine, art, literature, astronomy and introduced the education system in Japan. To enhance and facilitate their mission, they established six main Buddhism schools in the city of Nara. The monks also helped greatly in improving the human relations and ethics within the citizens of Japan (Richard 2010).

According to the teachings of  Buddha, the men's desire is what caused them to suffer a great deal, and if the desire was to be removed from men, then, men could seize to a duffer (Lowenstein 1996). The teachings also brought out the true nature of the illusions of the world, and karme was believed to be responsible for keeping men in the cycle of deaths and births (Campbell 2003).

The Knossos Palace

Knossos is based on the great tale of the labyrinth, which was an intricate and sophisticated branching warren. The word labyrinth originated from the word 'labrys' which means a two edged axe. It had a supernatural and spiritual implication among the Minoans. It was the house of that Minotaur, a creature which was a half man and half beast/bull. Later, it was murdered by Theseus who was the hero in Athens.

The double edged sword was a representation of the majestic power in Knossos, thus suggesting that the novel Minoan majesty palace was a labyrinth. There were quite a number of symbols in the palace, such as the female goddesses that were worshiped by the Minoans. The location of the Labyrinth had been a point of concern for many Minoan studies. Throughout the 20th century, there were many animations where  human sacrifice were committed. They all  were linked to the Myth and the Knossos Palace. This fact puzzles many Bronze Age scholars and researchers because there had never been any form of human sacrifice in Crete and no evidence had never been discovered before. There is a suggestion that the palace was considered to be a sacrificial place. The Minoans believed in the labyrinth and put axes on their paintings as well as pottery works. The axes were supposed to prevent something or somebody from being killed. The double edged axe was believed to have a religious and royal power.

Scrolls Verses Frescoes

The Temple had scrolls which had religious messages on them that were in most cases the beliefs of the Buddhists. The scrolls showed different types of punishments which people could get as a result of not following those beliefs. Most of scrolls in the Buddhist church were mandala. It is a holy art of a ritual and spiritual importance (Lowenstein 1996).

The Knossos Palace

The Knossos Palace had frescoes that were commonly lined all around the palace walls. They represented different mythical stories and beliefs. For instance, the sea dolphins were believed to be able to catch children who had fallen into the sea. These frescoes were supposed to add aesthetic value to the numerous rooms in the Knossos palace. It is worth mentioning that some artifacts were found in the Knossos palace, for example, the snake goddess and the bull’s head (they were in the temple repository), dolphins wall painting and dancing girl fresco in the Queen's megaron, Bull Games (Taurokatharpsia in a room in the East wing, and a wall painting of Bull's head in the West Bastion. The throne room was flanked by a Griffin Fresco which had two griffins couchant. Griffins were mythological creatures and appeared on the seal rings used in the stamping the identities of the entire bearer into clay or wax.

Different Purposes of the Two Complexes

Buddhism verses Greek Mythology

Mythology is an oral retell of a story or a myth of certain people or a culture which was believed to have lived a long time ago. It helped very much in the provision of ideas concerning the culture, intellectual development, and the values of people who belonged to the certain culture. The Buddhism and Greek mythology existed in the world history. Although they were greatly separated by the pretty distance, but they had many differences and similarities between their myths and stories.

Buddhism mythology

The Buddhist mythology is known to operate in the Buddhist belief since it is considered to be a very broad mythology because it was adapted and influenced by very many cultures, like the Gandhara, and later, it was also incorporated in countries like Japan and China. It is well-known that Buddhism has included all the aspects of all those cultures that adapted it. The Sarawati, a Hindu Deva, came from Gandahara; the Kami was local according to the many Japanese Buddhists.

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The two religions believe that both the heaven and the earth were created by the gods. For the Greeks, water was transformed into the world over a period of time. There were several gods in the two religions, and each god had different crucial roles in the religion. The gods represented both heaven and underworld in the two religions set-up. All the gods were believed to have originated from the ocean; hence, this brought a serious confusion in Iliad XIV.201 as well as 246. 

Buddhism is a religion which is one of the oldest religions in the world. It was mainly characterized by the strong belief in the large pantheon of gods and goddesses as well as a very strong belief in the reincarnation. It was mainly bases on Buddha teachings, and it had the holding that a state of enlightenment could be attained by the suppression of the worldly desires (Richard 2010).

In the Buddhist mythology, Emma-%u014D was the Jigoku who was the hell overlord. He corresponded to the Indian deity Yama. He was believed to judge men’s souls; while his sister was responsible for judging the women’s souls. The sinner was then sentenced to the 16 fire regions or the ice regions that had been assigned to him /her by the Emma-%u014D for a long period of time until his / her rebirth. The representation of the Emma-%u014D was a fierce expression with a Chinese judge’s cap and his office mace.

Greek mythology

The Greek mythology was a collection of myths and legends of the Ancient Greeks. It dwelt on heroes, the nature world, the origins and the general significance of cults and religious beliefs, ritual practices, and gods. Legends and myths were considered to be a part of the religion practiced in Greece. This Greek mythology was made up of a collection of narratives, representational arts like the votive gifts and the vase paintings. The Greek myth attempted to give an explanation concerning the origin of the world, the adventures of gods, goddesses, heroines, heroes, and other mythological creatures that were believed to have existed during the time of the Knossos Palace and the ancient times.

In Greek mythology, there was a story about Prometheus who was believed to have stolen the god’s fire and given it to people. After having received the fire from Prometheus, people became more enlightened and developed. Zeus got to be enraged by the deed of Prometheus. He chained him to Mount Caucasus where there was an eagle which came during the day and pecked his liver. The liver used to regenerate during the night, and the process went on each day. This cycle went on until the son of Zeus, Hercules, killed the eagle and saved Prometheus.

According to some myths, the Knossos Palace was designed by Daedalus who was a famed architect. Daedalus managed to construct the palace which became famous for its the complexity. This is what made King Minos to hold the architect as a prisoner so that he could never get to sneak the plan of the palace to anybody or even reveal the plan. This did not stop Daedalus, who was considered to be a very creative man and a great inventor, from building wings that would enable him and Ikaros, his son, to escape from the imprisonment of King Minos. They flew off successfully from the island, but it turned out to be a catastrophe. Daedalus warned his son that he was not supposed to fly too close  to the sun since the hot rays of the sun would melt up the wax which had been used to join the wings together. Ikaros was very aggressive since he was very young. He ignored his father’s warnings and flew very high until the rays of the sun got so hot that they were successful in melting the wax which joined his wings which led to his tragic death. He fell into the Aegean sea where he found his death.

The labyrinth was believed to be the Minotaur’s dwelling place. This place was associated with a legend about the Minotaur and the way of its being killed by Theseus. The palace  was a place of torture and death by the Minotaur.

The Greek mythology involved different gods where Zeus was their king who was responsible for controlling the weather. The Greeks strongly believed that the main residence of the king Zeus was on the Mount of Olympus. Hades was the god who was associated with death, Varuna and Poseidon were the Greek gods who were associated with the ocean, and Ares was the god of war. Hephaestus was the god who played a very important role in the weapon design and production. The Greeks believed that the gods that they served to controlled everything around them and them as well.


In the two mythologies, people believed in Good and Evil. They believed that Good and Evil were fathered by the same being who was considered to be the superior one. This being could give life and also take it away. They believed in the existence of gods and devoted themselves to worshipping them. They believed that the gods were capable of punishing those who disrespected them. The two mythologies also believed in prophesies and the impacts that they had with them. This is because prophesies were believed to play a very important role in the two mythologies where in the myths there was usually a main character who could try very much to avert a prophesy but ended up fulfilling it. So they believed in what their gods prophesied what had been prophesied was destined to happen, and no man could reverse or even avert the prophesies.

Architectural Differences and Similarities

The Indoor verses Outdoor Architecture

The indoor and the outdoor architecture could help very much in contributing to the efficiency in the building conditioning system. The indoor and outdoor architecture of the Temple and the Knossos Palace were very different.

The indoor of the temple had an inner space division which was fluid with a room size that could be modified by the use of movable wall papers, sh%u014Dji. Due to the wall papers, the main hall could be divided into several small rooms if there was the need to do so. Some walls of the temple could also be removed to make a very big room and create space in order to accommodate a large number of guests. There were verandas that were also a part of the building. The outdoor of the temple was made of flower gardens that symbolized a natural environment. There were also cupboards which had been built into the walls very smoothly. They were used to hide the futon, special  mattress, thus allowing more space during the day.

The Knossos Palace

The Knossos Palace was designed in a way that its inner rooms had enough light passing through them. On the walls of the palace, there were paintings of human beings and animals like the dolphin. The wooden columns were well-painted in red and helped in supporting the ceilings. A majority of the walls of the palace were lined with alabaster. The palace had an indoor plumbing system which was supposed to carry out all the sewerage from the palace. This was a very unique feature for those times. It should be mentioned that the indoor plumbing was adopted until in the 19th century i Europe and America. This made the palace to differ greatly from the Temple. The palace had a flushing toilet and bathrooms.


In the two temples, there are statues or monuments some of which are found outside, and others are placed inside the buildings. Both buildings were destroyed by fire and rebuilt at one point.

Materials, Tools Available at Time

Wood was considered to be the best and the most commonly used material in the Temple. The wooden construction was a masonry architecture where the interior columns of wood had the loads; while the exterior walls were very thin thus they were actually made of plaster and woodwork. The Chinese and Greek architecture used very little diagonal members with the framing system being made up of horizontals and uprights (Reynolds 2001). Tiles were used for the roof of the Temple. If the roofs were not tiled, they were thatched. The sliding doors were used in the temple. They were believed to allow the internal space configuration to the many occasions which were there in the Japanese Buddhist culture. The wood techniques were applied to the building of the T%u014Dsh%u014Ddai-ji Temple. These techniques were considered to be very complicated believed to have originated from the Chinese Sui and Tang dynasties. The structural timber was used in supporting the roof; while the wooden timber was made up of logs which were very large and were well trimmed and were used as the roof.

The shoji screens used to divide the big rooms were made of paper material which was then attached to a thin wooden frame which was able to be rolled away when it was pushed. It was considered to be the best material for dividing rooms because it allowed light to pass through the thin paper which made the screens (Reynolds 2001).

Tatami mats were made up of rice straw were used to cover the floor of the temple. The rice straw was used so as to be able to provide comfort on the bare earth. it was applied to during the Heian Period, between 794-1185. Mats were laid anywhere on the floor of the house since they allowed enough air circulation.

Bamboo was also used in building because it was decorative and also had functional purposes. The blinds were made of bamboo, Sudare, which replaced the shoji during the summer period so that it could keep off excessive heat (Reynolds 2001). They allowed the free air circulation. They were used for the rafters and the ceilings, and its decorative purpose helped in the bringing out of the natural beauty because of its raw beauty which was made up of a smooth surface and knots which were very attractive.

The Knossos Palace

The building was made up of stone and brick that had been proven to be a new building architecture by that time. This is because the stone and brick were used to testify new building methods. The palace was built by the use of tiles, gypsum, facades, walls, and courtyards.  The partitions of the palace were actually decorated by the use of murals, plaster, and marble facings (MacDonald 2003). The palace’s floors were covered with limestone and gypsum. There were very many apartments which were well-arranged and beautifully decorated.

The Overall Plan and Construction of the Complexes

The construction works of both buildings were wedged up in war at one point, for the Temple was affected two times by the Vortex War, and fire consumed the great Buddha hall which had to be rebuilt again. While Knossos building was constructed during the war, and it was situated next to the novel settlement due to the defensive needs.

The Temple was built by the use of the Chinese architecture which took the shape of in East Asia in many centuries (Sumner 2010). This Chinese architecture has remained unchanged since then, and only the decorative details had been changed over the years.

The Knossos Palace

The Knossos Palace had a layout which was very interesting. 1300 rooms were interconnected by the use of corridors varied in the directions and the actual size. The main entrance of the palace had a theater, store rooms which were commonly known as the magazines, and four cardinal faces with a main entrance. Inside the storerooms, there were very large containers made of clay. They were called pithoi and were used to hold dried fish, olives, and beans. The overall plan and the construction of the palace were done by the use of the architectural techniques which were considered to be very advanced. The plan and construction of the palace had a water management system, ventilation system, Minoan columns, Frescoes, and throne room. There was a very good architectural plan for water management where there were about three systems. They were put to manage water into the palace which included the supply of water, the draining of the runoff, and the drainage of the waste water. This showed that sanitation in the palace was well planned (MacDonald 2003). There was a water flushing system which was in the queen’s adjoining bathroom and toilet. The toilet was in the form of a seat was flushed by using a jug to pour water into the toilet.

Ornaments Used to Uphold the Different Buildings

The two structures are frequently visited by tourists as they are both nationwide treasures of each country. Thus, this has made both two buildings famous within their countries as well as outside their country.

The temple was made of various art and ornaments. For instance, at the Great Southern Gate, which is the focal way into the temple, there are two beautiful carvings which are above eight meters in height. These were Nios’ statues, the Benevolent Kings in the T%u014Dsh%u014Ddai-ji temple. The Great Buddha Hall was made up of wood and was the largest wooden building worldwide. The largest statues of the Buddha Vairocana (Daibutsu) in Japan were found in the T%u014Dsh%u014Ddai-ji Temple (Sumner 2010).

This Great Buddha was constructed using precious materials like bronze and copper; while the hair of the statue was made using approximately 966 balls of bronze. Therefore, the statue weighs about 250 tons with a height of 30 meters. In the outer region of the temple, there are Octagonal lanterns made of bronze with an inscription of the advantages of illumination lantern in the Buddhist text (Sumner 2010).

The Knossos Palace

In the Knossos Palace, Frescoes were used to decorate the walls. The fresco remains were considered to be the only fragments which could be used for the reconstruction. They were a form of paintings which were colorful portrayed the society of those times.  The Frescoes represents images of both men and women who appeared very attractive on the walls of the palace. They showed ageless and young people as well as children. Some frescoes showed activities which were carried out by people, for example, gathering of harvest or flowers, fishing and hunting.  The murals were also used to portray athletic feats. The most common example was the bull-leaping which showed an athlete grabbing the horns of the bull and vaulting on the back of the animal. A very good example of a fresco was the Toreador Fresco which was painted in 1550-1450 BC. It depicts a man who after being flanked by two women leapt on the back of a charging bull (MacDonald 2003). 


The Temple and the Knossos Palace are both ancient buildings that were constructed in the ancient times. The Temple was built in the city of Nara by Buddhist monks, and it prophesied the Buddhist religion; while the Knossos Palace was built in in Crete by the Minoan civilization. These two complexes had similarities and differences in their architecture in regard to the general plan of the buildings and the materials used in their constructions. The Temple was built using gold; the limestone and gypsum were applied to the building of the Knossos Palace. The two buildings had their own purposes. The Temple was mainly used for religious purposes, and the Knossos Palace was used for both the political and religious purposes. The two buildings were damaged and later rebuild back to their initial state. 

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