Empress Komyo and the poor in 8th century

 Empress Komyo (701–760)
 (image: http://hokkeji.shop-pro.jp/?pid=25218615)

"Hidenin", the charity facility for the poor in Nara period
(photo: http://www31.ocn.ne.jp/~john/home/sen/hiden/hiden.htm)

The Japanese Imperial government in 8th Century decided Buddhism to be its national religion.

Empress Komyo (光明皇后) (701–760), the wife of Emperor Shomu  (701–756), was a pious Buddhist. She was the one who planned and implemented building of all the Nara Period Buddhism monuments, including Todaiji, Yakushiji, and Daibutsu.

She built the first Japanese national hospital, Seyakuin (施薬院) as well as the charity home for the poor, Hidenin (悲田院) in Nara. Japanese mythology tells Empress Komyo involved herself in treatments of patients. She did not limit the function of this national hospital just to Emperor family or aristocrats. Anybody sick despite their social class could use this hospital. Before roadside trees were built in the capital main street, she chose peach and pear trees so that a poor person may not be hungry.

There is a tale: one day, Empress Komyo was engaging in patient's treatment in the national hospital. An old man with Hansen's disease came to her. Empress Komyo tried to clean his body, but she could not clean all pus from his wounds. Empress Komyo started to suck his pus with her mouth for cleaning. Suddenly the old leper changed his appearance. He was one of Buddha's messengers, Nyo-Rai. He told her Buddhism would protect her country and people so that her people would enjoy prosperity.

Buddhism became the national religion with Empress Komyo's success.

Source (English):
http://EzineArticles.com/5374845

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