Located in the foot on the slightly elevated hill of Ikaruga-cho town, in the Midwest of the Nara Basin, Horyuji Temple is one of Nara’s leading temples and is a treasure trove of Buddhist art, with Asuka Art leading.
Horyuji Temple is said to have been founded by Prince Shotoku in the 7th century, and is the oldest remaining wooden building in the world. It was built in the Ikaruga area, a little far from the area called Nanto where the city was in the Nara period (now Nara City), so it did not have to be involved in the war in a long history. Therefore, many Buddhist art objects are left in the vast temple area, and it is also the first building in Japan to be registered as a World Heritage Site.
The highlight is the many architectural and Buddhist art objects. Among the 125 buildings built on the site, 17 are National Treasures and 35 are Important Cultural Properties. Especially the famous five-storied pagoda is a building that symbolizes Horyuji Temple.
The five-storied pagoda of Horyuji is the oldest tower in Japan and the oldest wooden building in the world along with Kondo (Main Hall). In the tower, a group image representing the scene of the “Death of Buddha” is enshrined.
After Nandaimon Gate, which is the main gate of Horyuji Temple, you will find Chumon Gate. The pillars of Chumon Gate are bulging in the center, and this is said to be a technique called Entasis found in the Parthenon in Greece.
In addition, the statue of Salvation Kannon, considered to be the hidden Buddhist statue of Horyuji, is 178.8 centimeters tall and is said to be life-sized as Prince Shotoku. It has been kept untouched for a long time as a hidden Buddhist statue, but was opened by Ernest Francisco Fenollosa and Tenshin Okakura in the Meiji era. Now it is open to the public every year from April 11 to May 18 so that anyone can see it.
If you step in, you can see the scenery of the Asuka era over 1400 years ago. It is one of Japan’s most historical spots where you can feel the Buddhist culture with your eyes by actually looking at the world’s oldest wooden buildings. There are many famous temples besides Horyuji temple in the outskirts. Why don’t you go out for a trip around the temple that Japan boasts.
The oldest wooden buildings in the world
Horyuji Temple in Ikaruga-cho town in Nara Prefecture is the temple erected by Prince Shotoku and Emperor Suiko, and is also the headquarters of the Shotoku sect. It is famous as the temple which has the oldest wooden buildings in the world and was registered as a World Heritage Site in 1993. It possesses a large number of cultural assets such as Buddhist statues and Buddhism handicraft made in the Asuka period and Nara period, and it is a sightseeing spot which represents Nara along with Todaiji Temple and Kasugataisha Shrine.
The world’s oldest wooden building group was completed around the year 711
Emperor Yomei, the father of Prince Shotoku, hoped to build Horyuji Temple, which Prince Shotoku and Empress Emiko Suiko built in 607 with his will. Temple buildings were destroyed by fire in about 670, but they were rebuilt immediately afterwards, then the world’s oldest wooden building group was completed around the year 711. This building group is now called the Sai-in.
To mourn Prince Shotoku’s Bodhisattva
Around 738, a priest named Gyoshinsozu built the group of temple buildings centered on Yumedono (Hall of Dreams) and Shari-den (reliquary hall) on the site of Ikaruganomiya Palace to mourn Prince Shotoku’s Bodhisattva. This is the current To-in. Ikaruganomiya Palace was the residence of Prince Shotoku, and the To-in took the lead of Prince Shotoku faith for a long time.
17 cases designated as national treasures, and 35 cases designated as important cultural properties
Horyuji Temple is the great temple with 125 buildings in the vast precincts of about 190,000 square meters. Of the buildings, there are 17 cases designated as national treasures, and 35 cases designated as important cultural properties. It takes a lot of time to look over the buildings.
Beauty like a painting
Various trees and flowers are planted in the vast precincts of Horyuji Temple, and different beauty for every season can be enjoyed. Among them, the cherry blossom trees near the Todaimo Gaten are popular as places to enjoy flowers in spring and autumn leaves in fall. Also, the combination of the autumn sunset sky and the five-story pagoda is a beauty like a painting, and some visit the temple for this purpose.
Information(Access, Price/Charge, Tel, Address, Official site, etc.)
|Address:||Horyujisannai 1-1 Ikomagun Ikarugacho, Nara 636-0115 Japan|
|Access:||JR Kansai-honsen Line “Horyuji-eki Station” (20 minutes walk)|
|Price:||1,500 yen (Adult : 12 years-old and over)|
750 yen (Child)
Please refer the official web page.