Horyuji Temple is one of the most significant Buddhist shrines in Japan, located in Ikaruga that is about ten kilometers from Nara in the northwestern Nara prefecture. Also known as Ikaruga-dera Temple, this temple literally means the ‘Temple of the Flourishing Law,’ as the temple complex was once both a seminary and monastery.
Highlights and Features of Horyuji Temple
There is a surprising amount of artifacts, rituals and ceremonies awaiting you at Horyuji temple. In fact, the temple is a treasure trove of ancient Buddhist art, with more than 2,000 articles and structures of cultural and historic significance. A beautiful pathway that is flanked on both sides by refreshing pine trees leads you to the temple’s first gate – Nandaimon, literally meaning ‘the Great South Gate.’
There are also many other gates within the temple, such as Chumon or Middle Gate that enables you to enter the inner sanctum of the Western Temple and Todaimon or East Great Gate that once served as the temple’s entrance and now stands as a mark to segregate the east and west sections of the temple complex.
The temple ground consists of two sections: the Western Temple (Sai-in or Nishi-no-in) and the Eastern Temple (To-in or Higashi-no-in). Among more than 30 buildings in the Western temple that deserve a special note are Kondo – a squat Asuka-era structure that has on display some amazing frescoes and statues, Gojuto – a five storied pagoda that is the oldest of its kind in the country, Daikodo or the Great Lecture Hall that trace back to the Heian era and Daihozode, which exhibit a wide assortment of wealth that have been collected over a millennium. On the eastern temple is its main building – Yumedono that is constructed on the site where once the Prince Shotoku lived as well as meditated, in addition to 13 other buildings.