Designed in 1909, the Buddhist Temple Room evokes the dignified simplicity of Japanese temples. Japanese and American craftsmen consulted plans of the main hall at the eighth-century monastic complex of Hōryū-ji, one of the oldest extant in Japan, and collaborated on the adaptation of some of its architectural elements for the Temple Room and nearby galleries. Massive wooden pillars with Japanese-style brackets now frame the walls in the Temple Room, where the décor and subdued lighting encourage contemplative viewing of the seven Japanese statues housed there.
The focal point is the monumental Dainichi, Buddha of Infinite Illumination (1149), the supreme deity of the Esoteric Buddhist pantheon. His hand is in the “wisdom-fist” gesture symbolizing divine knowledge. To his left is another Dainichi Buddha from the 12th century, and to his right is Amida, Buddha of Infinite Light (12th century). Also on view in the Temple Room are two of Four Guardian Kings (9th century), Fudō the Immovable One (12th century) and Bishamonten, Guardian of the North (11th–12th century). All are made of wood, either cypress or camphor, and some are painted or have gilt accents.