Horyuji Temple is located in the historic and sacred Ikaruga town of the Nara Prefecture in Kansai Region. Horyuji Temple and the surrounding temples in the Ikaruga town are oldest Buddhist structures in Japan dating back to the Asuka Period (mid sixth century) and are associated with the roots of the Japanese Buddhism itself. Please refer to my pages on Shintoism and Buddhism for more information about Japanese Buddhism.
Horyuji Temple and Ikaruga Town are away from the central Nara City and Nara Park area. But they can be easily reached from the JR Nara Station by Bus. Please visit the information center at JR Nara Station for more information.
According to the records of the ancient Ikaruga town; Emperor Yomei, who was first Emperor of Japan to promote Buddhism in Japan, wanted to build a temple for Buddha as a form of prayer for his own recovery from a very grave illness. Unfortunately he was never able to fulfill this wish because he met with an untimely death.
Horyuji Temple Seal
The succeeding rulers of Japan Empress Suiko and Crown Prince Shotoku Taishi fulfilled Emperor Yomei's deathbed wish by building a temple and a Statue of Buddha in 607 AD. The Buddha statue was of the Yakushi Nyorai (Bhaisajyaguru)-literally, "arrival as a healer"-and the temple was named the Ikaruga Temple (after the name of the location), or Horyuji ("Temple of the Fluorishing Law of Buddhism").
Even though the Nihon Shoki (The Chronicles of Ancient Japan), claims that all of these buildings were destroyed in a fire in the year 670 AD, the later records state that most of the structures survived the fire and continued the great Japanese Buddhist traditions for fourteen centuries.
Shaka Nyorai (Buddha) Triad Statues in the Hondo
Today, Horyuji is composed of the Western Precinct , which is centered around the Five-Story Pagoda, the Main Hall, and the Eastern Precinct which is arranged around the Hall of Visions. The five storied pagoda is one of the oldest in Japan and one of the most beautiful. The two gates leading to the Temple precincts, Nadaimon and Chumon, contain some of the best carved Guardian Kings. In addition to the worship halls, there is a lecture hall, sutra hall and a hall for the Prince Shotoku's Soul. The Kannon statues inside the halls are some of the most awe inspiring and amazing articles of the ancient Japan.
In all, the Horyuji Precincts contain over 2300 important cultural and historical structures and articles, including nearly 190 that have been designated as National Treasures or Important Cultural Properties. In December of 1993, Horyuji, as a unique storehouse of World 's Buddhist culture, became the first treasure of any kind in Japan to be selected by UNESCO as part of the World Cultural Heritage.
Here is the video of one of the most sacred and amazing temples in Japan: