Horyuji Temple is home to the world’s oldest surviving wooden structures. They date back to more than 1,300 years ago, during the Asuka Period (552-645). Founded by Prince Shotoku in 607, Horyuji Temple suffered a fire in 670, but was rebuilt afterwards. It is considered the cradle of Japanese Buddhism, and holds ancient treasures. Horyuiji Temple is considered to be one of the “Big three” temple to see in Nara, along with Todaiji Temple, and Kofukuji Temple.
Horyuji Temple grounds cover a large area. It spans just about one km wide.The temple area is split into two areas. One being the Western Precinct, which contains the Chumon (Central gate), Kondo (main hall), and the five-story Pagoda. The Eastern Precinct is a five minute walk from the Western, and contains other old buildings, such as the: Yumedono (Hall of visions), and statue of Prince Shotoku surrounded by monks and statues of Buddha. Centered between both Precinct, stands the Gallery of Temple Treasures. Built in 1998, the building is home to many art collection from different time periods. It mostly holds Buddhist relic, artwork, and paintings.
Chumon Central Gate translates to the middle gate. When you enter through here, two giant nio guardian statue can be seen upon entry, with one painted black and the other red. A very good first stop before the main Western Precinct.
Kondo (Main Hall) is a Japanese national treasure and one of the oldest wooden structures in the world, Kondo contains the main Horyuji sacred statue. It includes the bronze Shaka triad, the Buddha of healing-Yakushi Nyorai, and a 12th century amida Buddha which commemorates Prince Shotoku’s mother.
Goju no To Pagoda, a five-story Pagoda, held in the Western Precinct, is the oldest pagoda in Japan. Dating as far back as 607, the interior of the Pagoda holds clay statues from the Nara period.
Daikodo, north of the five-story pagoda is the Daikodo (Great lecture hall). This hall contains the Yakushi Trinity in gilt wood. Daikodo was reconstructed in 920 to preserve it from tearing away from its original.
Yumedono Halls of Visions, the Eastern Precinct was built in 739, which contains the Yumedono (Hall of visions). This area was built in a way to commemorate Prince Shotoku. A life-sized statue can be found in the center of the Yumedono. The statue is measured to be 1.8 meters and covered in golden leaves. Not only that, around the area are more statues of monks and Buddhists, said to be built to surround the prince. This is where the prince would invite Monks and Buddhist to meditate with him for peace.
History of Horyuji Temple
As mentioned before, Prince Shotoku was to take charge of the construction of Horyuji Temple, but he wasn’t the original person for this idea. His father, who was emperor Yomei, final wish before he passed was build a temple and statue of a Buddha, in dedication to practicing prayers. Although the emperor did not live to see the final construction, his son set out to grant his wish.
Horyuji Temple contains over 23,00 cultural and historical structures and articles, and about 190 of them are considered national treasures by Japan government. In 1993, Horyuji Temple became the first treasure in Japan to be selected by UNESCO as part of the world heritage sites.
[map lat=”34.614077″ lng=”135.735683″][/map]
Address: 1-1 Horyuji Sannai, Ikarugacho, Ikomagun, Nara Prefecture
Access: 20 minute walk from Horyuji Station
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM (February 22 – November 3)
8:00 AM – 4:30 PM (November 4 – February 21)
750 (Elementary School Students)
Website: Horyuji Temple