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Horyuji Temple
Get in touch with the history of the Asuka Period with one of the world’s oldest wooden structures

Horyuji Temple was founded by Prince Shotoku, and was one of the first sites in Japan to be registered as a World Heritage Site.

Horyuji Temple was built around 607 at the wish of Prince Shotoku for the late Emperor Yomei, his deceased father. Much of the oldest wooden architecture in the world can be found at Horyuji Temple, and the site, along with Hokiji Temple, home to the oldest three-storied pagoda in the world, which was completed in 706, were registered as a World Heritage Site under the title “Buddhist Monuments in the Horyu-ji Area” in 1993. These represent some of the earliest buildings from a period where Buddhism was first introduced to Japan from China through the Korean Peninsula. These buildings, together with the architectural structures built later are highly regarded for facilitating our understanding on how Buddhist architecture evolved over the years in Japan.

The Horyuji Temple grounds are broadly divided into Saiin and Toin (western and eastern precincts). The Horyuji Temple Saiin Garan (the center of the temple) will immediately come into view when passing through the Nandaimon (main southern gate) from the approach to the temple. At the center lies the five-storied pagoda and main hall, surrounded by a corridor connecting the middle gate to the great lecture hall in what is referred to as the “Horyuji Temple-style garan layout.” The Nihon Shoki (Chronicles of Japan) states that the temple was burnt in 670, with the current Buddhist temple thought to have been rebuilt in the early part of the 8th century. This is the oldest group of wooden buildings in the world to preserve how they looked in the past. The Toin Garan is found east from Saiin, past the Todaimon (east gate). This set of buildings is set around the Yumedono (Hall of Dreams), which was built in 739 by the high priest Gyoshin as a memorial to Prince Shotoku. As one of Japan’s most prominent ancient temples, the temple contains a total of 55 structures and around 3,000 Buddhist art works designated as National Treasures/Important Cultural Properties.
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  • 1-1 Horyuji Sannai, Ikaruga-cho, Ikoma-gun, Nara 636-0115 Japan
  • • Bus stop: Get off at Horyuji-sando (The temple is located nearby.)
    • 20 minutes on foot from JR Horyuji Station
    • 5 minutes by NC bus, Nara Kotsu bus (heading towards Horyuji-sando)
    • 15 minutes from the Horyuji IC on the Nishi-Meihan Expressway

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