Visit Horyu-ji Buddhist Temple

If you are a fan of ancient wooden architecture, the Horyu-ji temple is a place of high significance you should consider visiting. Some of the oldest building made of wood is present in this temple situated in Ikaruga in Nara Prefecture in Japan. This Buddhist temple dates back to the Asuka era in Japan.  Here are some interesting facts and information about the site.

How the temple came to be

The construction on the temple started in 587 AD under Emperor Yomei’s rule. The temple was to be a form of atonement for recovering from a sickness. At that time, Buddhism was still in its fledgling stage here and Kyoto was not made the capital yet.

After the death of Emperor Yomei, the construction was left to his heir apparent, Empress Suiko and Prince Shotoku, her regent. They finished building the temple in 607 AD. Some seventy years later the original structure burned due to an accident, but reconstruction was done to restore the damage by 710 AD.

Heritage site

Since most of the ancient Japanese architecture is known for its susceptibility to fire, the survival of the building is a miracle in itself. The building has until now remained unscathed.  Some even doubt on the initial fire’s occurrence, as without it the building would be even more ancient. Even with the accident, the complex has been used continuously for over 14 centuries, which has made UNESCO declare it as a World Heritage Site.

Wooden marvel

The complex is made of a pagoda of five stories with a Golden Hall present alongside it. There is an inner gate and a corridor made of wood that surrounds it. While now we have many useful wood finishing tools such as the belt sander found at this source, it is a wonder how the Japanese had worked on wood and created such masterpieces so many centuries back.

The temple serves its main purpose even today. You can find several valuable treasures belonging to the Nara and Asuka period here. The temple is mentioned in, ‘The Tale of Genji’ a Japanese Classic. It is one of the major Buddhist temples in the region and is a place, which nurtured the religion and spread it all over the country.

There are about 45 building present here of which some are made of wood. The woodwork is quite intricate and exquisite. As we mentioned before, while we do have great tools such as those at BELTSANDERWORLD to make the finishing easier the extent of craftsmanship that has gone into the building’s creation is simply breathtaking. And the place is just apt as it has a serene ambience.

Architectural expanse

The temple grounds spread over a large expanse. You have at least 20 gates as well as building here that are designated as important national treasures and cultural properties. The entire temple area is divided into two parts namely Eastern and Western Temple.  The Western temple is the older of the two buildings. Kondo is the key temple in the building and has several Buddha statues inside.

The Eastern temple is named as To-in Garan and is situated about 500 meters from the eastern side of Sai-in Garan (which is the name of the western part).  Gyoshin, a high priest had built this structure in memory of Prince Shotoku.  Yumedono is the chief building in the eastern part. It is octagonal in shape and has the statues of Gyoshin and Shotoku inside it.