Horyuji (Flourishing Law Temple) is an important Buddhist temple in Ikaruga near Nara. Horyuji is of great historical importance: it was from here that Buddhism blossomed and spread throughout Japan. Today about 45 buildings remain, some of them dating from the end of the 7th century and including the oldest wooden structures in the world. The atmosphere at Horyuji is serene and authentically ancient — no wonder it was selected as Japan's first World Heritage Site (designated 1993).
History of Horyuji
The temple was founded in 607 AD by the much-revered Prince Shotoku, who is credited with first promoting Buddhism in Japan. Buddhism had arrived in Japan only 50 years before the temple was built. The main purpose of the temple (which was then named Ikarugadera) was to properly house a statue of the Medicine Buddha.
The original temple burned down in 670, but was gradually rebuilt until the early 8th century. Several buildings still survive from this early rebuilding period, making Horyuji the oldest surviving Buddhist temple in Japan. Horyuji went on to bocame a major religious center for Hossō Buddhism. (Yakushiji, also in Nara, is the head temple of the sect.)
In 1993, Horyuji was the first site in Japan to be added to UNESCO's Cultural World Heritage List. The Japanese government lists a number of buildings and artifacts of Horyuji as National Treasures.
What to See at Horyuji
The sprawling grounds of the temple (over 1km wide) include no less than 20 gates and buildings designated as National Treasures or Important Cultural Properties. The area is divided into the Western Temple and the Eastern Temple, the Western being the older of the two. Following is a table of the most important buildings at Horyuji, listed in the order of the usual recommended itinerary beginning at the southern gate into the Western Temple and ending at the eastern end of the complex.
From Chuguji, it is a 5-8-minute south to the main road, where you can catch a bus back to the train station.
Quick Facts on Horyuji
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||34.614588° N, 135.734389° E|
|Address:||Nara Prefecture, Japan|
|Lodging:||View hotels near Horyuji|
- Horyuji: A Brief History - official website of Horyuji
- Ikaruga and Mt. Shigi Area - Nara Prefecture Official Website
- Horyuji Temple - Japan Atlas
- Horyuji travel guide - Wikitravel
- Buddhist Monuments in the Horyuji Area - UNESCO World Heritage
Map of Horyuji, Nara Prefecture
Below is a location map and aerial view of Horyuji. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.