Kōfuku-ji Temple is one of the eight key locations in the Nara UNESCO World Heritage Site. This was the first temple established in Nara when the capital was moved here. The temple contains several national treasures including five structures built from the 1100s to the mid 1400s.
The Five Story Pagoda, originally constructed in 730 AD and rebuilt in 1426, is Japan's second tallest pagoda and a symbol of Nara. The Southern Octagonal Halls was built in 1210 and still stands to
Unfortunately, as of late 2013, a few of the most significant buildings at the temple are being completely renovated in major decade-long projects. The main building, the Central Golden Hall, was destroyed in the 1700s and rebuilt in a smaller form in the 1800s. It is now being reconstruction to its original scale. Other reconstruction is underway around this central hall.
Kofukuji Temple was first built by the Fujiwara to ward off illness in 669. The temple moved before being built in Nara in 710. The five-storied pagoda has become an iconic symbol of the temple, as well as the city of Nara. It is the second highest pagoda in Japan (Toji Temple in Kyoto has the highest). The temple complex was considered to be one of the Four Great Temples of the Nara Period and one of the Seven Great Temples of the Heian Period.
It is free to walk around the temple precints however, the treasure house located next to the pagoda costs 600 yen. While walking around the grounds and seeing the buildings is still worthwhile for those on a budget, it is worth the money to see the temple's treasures. It houses a nice collection of Buddhist sculptures/statues.
Kofukuji used to be the family temple of Fujiwara, the most powerful family clan during much of Nara and Heian Periods. With the establishment of the new capital, Heijo-kyo in 710, the Umayasaka Temple was moved from Asuka to its present site and was given its present name. At the peak of Fujiwara power, the temple consisted of over 150 buildings. Today only a couple of buildings remain, including a three storey pagoda and a five storey pagoda, which is one of Japan's tallest and the symbol of Nara. The temple is always open and admission is free. Kofukuji's Treasure Hall exhibits part of the temple's great art collection. The opening hours are between 9:00 and 17:00. The admission fee is 500 JPY.
You can't miss Kofukuji Temple. If you're walking into Nara-koen Park from either of the train stations, it's the first tall pagoda you see -- after all, the associated pagoda is the second tallest in Japan. Built in 710, the Kofukuji Temple was associated with the Fujiwara family, the most powerful in Japan from 700 until the end of the Heian period in the 14th century. The pagoda is stupendous, climbing high above the hungry deer and screaming children.
I didn't see a way to enter the pagoda, and we opted to spend our temple time with an 8-year-old at the Todaiji Temple (because of the big buddha) so I can't tell you what the inside of the temple looked like. I'll save that for next trip!
I think the closest main sightseeing place from Nara station is Kofukuji Temple. The temple complex is located between Kintetsu Nara Station and Nara Park.
Kofuku-ji temple was one of Japan's great temples in the eighth century. The Kofukuji temple complex is wide. In the complex there are two pagodas: Three Storied Pagoda (west side) and the Five Storied Pagoda (east side), two octagonal halls: Hokuendo (Northern Octagonal Hall) and the Nanendo (Southern Octagonal Hall), and two main halls: Tokondo, (Eastern Golden Hall) and Chukondo (Central Golden Hall).
Located in Nara-koen, the famous Five Storey Pagoda is part of Kofuku-ji, one of Nara's great temples. As well as the pagoda there are a couple of other buildings that are part of the temple complex, both of which go heavy on the Buddha statues. Look out for the bronze Buddha head that is over 1,000 years old which is in great condition considering it was originally stolen from another temple in the early era of Buddhism. Later it's body was destroyed in fire and the head was buried beneath the replacement statue and only uncovered in 1937.
Kofuku-ji is actually a complex of 175 buildings. Fires and destruction as a result of power struggles have left only a dozen still standing. The most prominent of these are a 3-storey pagoda and a 5-storey pagoda, dating back from 1143 and 1426 respectively. The 5-storey pagoda is the second tallest in Japan, outclassed only by the Toji in Kyoto.
As you walk towards the main road at the exit of Nara Park, you'll come across this 5-storey pagoda also known as Kofukuji Temple.
Please see travelogue for pix of the 3-storey pagoda, nearby temples and intricate designs of Japanese crafts.
Kofukuji Temple (Temple of Growing Bliss) consists of a few historically significant buildings and a five-storied pagoda that is Japan's tallest. It used to be the family temple of a very powerful clan in Japan - the Fujiwara Clan. At the pinnacle of the clan's heyday, the temple had over 150 buildings.
As with many great historical buildings in Japan, Kofukuji also has a precious art and treasure collection which is available for viewing at its Treasure House. Examples are the Thousand-armed Kannon, Hachibushi (Beings of the Eight Classes) and Buddha Head (originally from Yamadadera), etc.
The temple was put on the World Heritage List of UNESCO in 1998.
Kokuhokan Museum: 9:00-17:00 (enter by 16:00). ¥500.
Tokondo Hall: 9:00-17:00 (enter by 16:00). ¥300.
Kofukuji Temple is located at the entrance of Nara Park, very close to Kintetsu Nara Station, where it has been for almost thirteen hundred years. Kofukuji is also said to be a clan Temple to the patron deity of the Fujiwaras, a powerful aristocratic clan which wielded enormous influence in Japan over a five-century period beginning in the 8th century.
Kagami-no-Himemiko founded the original temple in 669. She was the consort of Fujiwara Kamatari, who was one of the founders of the Fujiwara family, which actually governed Japan from the seventh to the eleventh centuries.
The original temple was located in Yamashina Suehara, in what is now Kyoto Prefecture, and it was used as the private place for worship of Fujiwara Kamatari. In 678, it was moved to Umayasaka in the Asuka district of Nara Prefecture, where the capital was located, and was re-named Umayasaka Temple. Three years after Heijokyo was established as the capital in 710, this temple was moved to its present site and renamed as Kofukuji.
Its five-storied pagoda, which has become a symbol of Nara, has been ravaged by fire many times over the temple's history; the current pagoda, rebuilt in the 15th century, recreates the magnificence of the Tempyo-period style of architecture.
There's lots of space surrounding this pagoda exposed to the sun. On the very hot day, I found a tree about 50m away for some shelter from the scorching sun and took a picture of the pagoda from there.
This temple was established in 710 having had the building moved here from a previous site dating back to 669. The highlight of the temple is the second largest pagoda in Japan
Kofuku-ji Temple, originally from 669 has burned down several times and the one we saw in 2004 is from 1426 but hey, still impressive architecture by any westerners standards.