Dō (architecture)

A miei-dō

( temple, shrine, hall, reception room; also shop, store[1]). It is very often used in Japanese Buddhism as a suffix in the name of some of the many buildings that can be part of a Japanese temple compound. (Other endings, for example -den as in butsuden, exist.) The prefix can be the name of a deity associated with it (e.g. Yakushi-dō, a name customarily translated as "Yakushi Hall") or express the building's function within the temple's compound (e.g. hon-dō, or main hall).[note 1]

Some words ending in - are Butsu-dō, hō-dō, hon-dō, jiki-dō, kaisan-dō, kō-dō, kon-dō, kyō-dō, mandara-dō, miei-dō, mi-dō, sō-dō, Yakushi-dō and zen-dō. With some exceptions, for example the words hondō, hokke-dō and kon-dō, these terms do not indicate any particular structure.

The suffix is used sometimes also in a lay context, as for example in the word shokudō (食堂 lit. food building, meaning restaurant or cafeteria).

A dō's size is measured in ken, where a ken is the interval between two pillars of a traditional-style building. A kon-dō for example is a 9x7 ken.[2] The word is usually translated in English as "bay" and is better understood as an indication of proportions than as a unit of measurement.



  1. Hall names are capitalized only when they refer to specific examples (e.g. XX-ji's Main Hall) or include proper names of deities (e.g. Yakushi-dō).


  1. Nelson, A.N., The Modern Reader's Japanese-English Dictionary, ISBN 0-8048-0408-7
  2. "Kondou". JAANUS. Retrieved 6 September 2010.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 "Corresponding JAANUS article". JAANUS.
  4. 1 2 3 Iwanami Kōjien (広辞苑) Japanese dictionary, 6th Edition (2008), DVD version
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