- Places to Explore
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
- Japanese Phrases
Horyu-ji (Horyu Temple)
Horyu-ji (Horyu Temple) Review
This temple is the jewel in the crown of classical Japanese architecture. In the morning, elderly locals on their way to work pray in front of the temple with an intensity the younger generation usually displays toward manga and puri-kura (photo stickers). Founded in 607 by Prince Shotoku (573–621), Horyu-ji's original wooden buildings are among the world's oldest. The first gate you pass through is the Nandai-mon, which was rebuilt in 1438 and is thus a relatively young 500 years old. The second gate, Chu-mon (Middle Gate), is the 607 original. Unlike most Japanese gates, which are supported by two pillars at the ends, central pillars support this gate. Note their entasis, or swelling at the center, an architectural feature from ancient Greece that traveled as far as Japan. Such columns are found in Japan only in the 7th-century structures of Nara.
After passing through the gates, you enter the temple's western precincts. The first building on the right is the Kon-do (Main Hall), a two-story reproduction of the original 7th-century hall, which displays Buddhist images and objects from as far back as the Asuka period (552–645). The Five-Story Pagoda to its left was disassembled in World War II to protect it from air raids, after which it was reconstructed with the same materials used in 607. Behind the pagoda is the Daiko-do (Lecture Hall), destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 990. Inside is a statue of Yakushi Nyorai (Physician of the Soul) carved from a camphor tree.
From the Daiko-do, walk past the Kon-do and Chu-mon; then turn left and walk past the pond on your right. You come to two concrete buildings known as the Daihozo-den (Great Treasure Hall), which display statues, sculptures, ancient Buddhist religious articles, and brocades. Of particular interest is a miniature shrine that belonged to Lady Tachibana, mother of Empress Komyo. The shrine is about 2½ feet high; the Buddha inside is about 20 inches tall. The Todai-mon (Great East Gate) opens onto Horyu-ji's eastern grounds. The octagonal Yumedono (Hall of Dreams) was so named because Prince Shotoku used to meditate in it.
To get here, take a JR Kansai Main Line train to Horyu-ji Station (¥210). The temple is a short shuttle ride or a 15-minute walk. Alternatively, Bus 52, 60, or 97 to Horyu-ji is a 50-minute ride from the JR Nara Station or Kintetsu Nara Station (¥760). The Horyu-ji-mae bus stop is in front of the temple.
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Fodor's Go List 2014: Where we are going in 2014
- World Cup Fever: Start planning your trip to Brazil!
- Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards: Check out the winners of 2013
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
Now that the flurry of November trip reports has come and gone (they were great!), I figure it’s time for one more, before the reports from spring cherry blossom-viewing visits start to come in. This Read more
After more than a month back from Japan, I’m happy to finally have a bit of a breather that allows me to start a trip report. Read more
· News & Features
Premium economy is the budding class of the airline world, but deciding on a carrier (and whether it’s ... Read more
San Juan's balmy temperatures, gorgeous beaches, and charming, historic buildings make it the perfec... Read more
Keep an open mind and a flexible schedule on your next getaway.... Read more