Kondo, The Main-Hall of Horyuji Temple
is one of the places where photography was totally forbidden inside, but at least we were allowed to take a look inside. Outside of the building you will see some interesting details like in my 4th photograph, where some grim animals obviously are in charge to guard the building against bad ghosts and similar dangers.
In the Höryuji-temple in Nara you will find some of the oldest wooden buildings on earth, dating back more than 1300 years. A part of this place is still a monastery nowadays, another part is a museum and its main attraction is Gojü-no-Tö, a pagoda with 5 stories, dating back to the 6th century and surrounded by a cloister from all sides. Photography is no problem in Höryuji-temple except for Kondo, (that is the main hall with old statues and some great frescoes), for the interior of the 5-stories-pagoda and for the museum.
Goju-no-To : The Five-Story Pagoda
dates back to the 7th century and you will find it inside of the grounds of Horyuji (Horyu Temple). According to the inscriptions the emperor Yomei had promised to build a temple for Buddha there, but he died before he could fullfill that promise. So his widow Suiko and crownprince Shotoku did build a temple in the year 607. In 670 all of the temple was destroyed by a fire but since they year 747 Goju-no-To ( The Five-Story Pagoda) is listed in the books of the temple.
This temple is listed as a UNESCO World-Heritage !
These are said to be the world's oldest surviving wooden buildings. Well worth seeing and especially, because Horyuji contains over 2,300 important cultural and historical structures and articles, including nearly 190 that have been designated as National Treasures or Important Cultural Properties in Japan. They illustrate Japanese history through out the centuries. Naturally, this temple is also listed in the Unesco World Heritage list.
Here, you can also find a goddess who can change dreams.
The grounds of Horyuji holds the world's oldest surviving wooden buildings. It is Japan's First World Cultural Heritage site. Horyuji contains over 2300 important cultural and historical structures and items. About 190 of these have been designated as National Treasures or Important Cultural Properties. The temple and the halls in this area are an amazing feat of woodwork. There is also a gallery of Temple Treasures which include really really old wooden sculptures (originally laqured and with gold-leaf), clay sculptures, and replicas of old paintings that were destroyed in fires. What is interesting, is that the 5-story pagoda has an iron spire rising from it that they built to please the gods and so spare themselves from more fires. However, the rod would actually serve as an effective lightning rod as it is the highest point around. Looking out of the temple's giant door on it's right hand side, you will see a cherry tree in bloom. This may not seem amazing until you realise that it is winter/autumn/summer. This is a tree that blooms all year round. Actually, it is never in full bloom, but it always looks like it is about to go into full bloom. It is the only cherry tree in Japan that has blossoms all year round.
Ask at the payment counter for an English Pamphlet. It has a map and explains a lot of the history of the area.
(More Photos of Horyuji Temple in my Travelogue)
Horyuji is the oldest surviving temple in Japan and has one of the world's oldest wooden buildings. The Main Hall, named "Kondo", dates back to the temple's original founding in 607.
The five storied pagoda, seen in the photo I took of my Nara friends, also dates back to the seventh century.
Many of the buildings as well as artworks contained within are deemed national treasures by the government of Japan.
Strolling on the grounds of this temple gave me a deep sense of history that I had not felt elsewhere in Japan. I took photos of moss covered eaves and imagined the generations of people who once soaked in the same evocative atmosphere. You will definitely gain an appreciation for Asian architecture as Chinese and Korean elements can be seen integrated into the Japanese temple buildings.