The fully named ‘Horyu Gakumonji’ or ‘Learning Temple of the Flourishing Law’ is most commonly referred to as ‘Horyu-ji’ and is one of Japan’s most important Buddhist temples. Horyu-ji was founded by the semi-mythical Prince Shotoku – a hugely important figure in the establishment of Buddhism in Japan – in 607 and today maintains the world’s oldest-known surviving wooden structures built sometime in the Asuka Period (538-710). The extensive temple grounds are divided into two main precincts, the ‘Sai-in Garan’ (Western Precinct) and ‘Toin Garan’ (Eastern Precinct) with multiple historic buildings including gates, main halls, sub-temples and pagodas of great beauty found throughout.
Within the grounds, multiple buildings rank among the oldest wooden structures in the world with temple holding a trove of treasured Buddhist sculpture and art dating from the 6th and 7th centuries – many of which are on display in the Gallery of Temple Treasures, located between the two precincts. Declared a World Heritage site in 1993, Horyu-ji should not be overlooked by any visitor to Nara.
08:00 to 17:00 (or until 16:30 from Nov. to Feb.)
To reach the temple by train, take the Yamatoji Line from JR Nara Station to Horyuji Station - 12 minutes / JPY220. Once at Horyuji Station, the temple can be reached on-foot within 20 minutes or using local bus services