Horyu-ji Temple Buddhist Architecture Complex – World Cultural Heritage in Japan

The Buddhist monuments in the Horyu-ji Temple Area are the first Buddhist monuments in Japan, dating from shortly after Buddhism was introduced to Japan and had a profound influence on the construction of the building. the next religious architecture.

English name: Buddhist Monuments in the Horyu-ji Area
Location: Nara Prefecture
Year of recognition: 1993
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iv)(vi)
Acreage: 15.3 ha with a buffer zone of 571 ha

The Horyu-ji Temple area has 48 Buddhist relics, which are considered as National Treasures of Japan, including 2 temples: Horyu-ji Temple with an area of ​​14.6 hectares and Hokki-ji Temple with an area of ​​0. 7 hectares.

Although fire destroyed the buildings at Horyu-ji Temple in 670, rebuilding began almost immediately and continued into the early years of the 8th century.

The temple complex is usually planned according to the Chinese-style courtyard model. The structure of the building is usually wooden, is a system of columns and beams with a complex multi-storey roof structure superimposed on it. However, the scale of the project is not large, suitable for the natural conditions of Japan, which is the volcanic archipelago, with the main buildings in the form of towers (temples). High-rise towers also have a main column in the middle of the building, which is a structure that reduces vibrations when earthquakes happen…

The combination of Chinese-style Buddhist construction and landscape architecture with the natural environment and Japanese culture has contributed to the formation of a distinct indigenous architectural style.

In the Horyu-ji Temple Area, there are many decorative sculptures, statues, lacquer paintings about the history of Buddhism in the style of Japanese culture…

The area of ​​Horyu-ji Temple has always been protected by the royal family. In addition, the worship of His Holiness Crown Prince Shotoku here has attracted more and more pilgrims.

1. Horyu-ji Temple

horyu-ji temple Buddhist architectural complex - world cultural heritage in Japan

Hōryū-ji (full name Hōryū Gakumonji, Temple of the Flourishing Law) is a Buddhist temple in the town of Ikaruga, Ikoma District, in Nara Prefecture, Japan.

This is a large complex with an area of ​​​​about 14.6 hectares, including pagodas and monasteries, which is considered the National Treasure of Japan.
The temple was completed in 607, is a place to worship Buddha and honor the father of Regent Shotoku.

The temple complex consists of 2 areas: Sai-in (Western Vien) and Tō-in (Eastern Vien).

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Sai-in area (Western Institute)

The Sai-in area (Western Institute) was burnt by lightning in 670, rebuilt in 711, rebuilt in the 13th century, repaired in 1374 and 1603.

Tay Vien is a complex of many works.

Some important construction items or National Treasures at Sai-in Area (from the main entrance) include:

  • – Nandaimon Gate (Dai Nam Gate / South Main Gate): is the gate leading to a corridor space into the temple area. The gate was built in 1439. The temple yard has two ornamental lakes on either side.
  • – Chumon Gate (Middle Gate/Entral Gate): is the main space limit of the temple, attached to the surrounding corridor, called Kairo (Cloister Gallery). The gate is a building with 4 compartments, the 2 outermost compartments have statues of two guardians.
  • – Kondo Building (Kim Duong / Main Hall): is a tower located in the east inside the temple yard. This is the main worship work in the temple.
    Kondo is a wooden building with a floor plan of 18.5m x 15.2m, placed on a 2-step stone pedestal.
  • – Goju no To Tower (Five Trung Tower / Five – Story Pagode): is a tower located on the west side of the temple yard. The tower is 32.55m high; The square tower plan is about 20m x 20m wide and is one of the oldest wooden buildings in the world. The building is placed on a stone pedestal with 2 steps.
    The tower is 1 story high but has 5 roof floors. The main bearing frame is only the height of the first floor, superimposed on the roof structure with 5 floors reaching out, giving the building a dignified and impressive form. The elongation of the roof gradually decreases with height with a bottom-to-top ratio of 10:9:8:7:6.
    The tower has a wooden pillar in the middle of the tower, buried 3m deep, reaching beyond the roof, which plays the role of reducing vibrations when earthquakes happen… (similar to the construction of Himeji Castle, Hyōgo, Japan, with 2 columns).
    The base of the tower is the burial place of the Buddha’s relics. Four around the ground floor of the tower there are clusters of clay sculptures depicting the life of Buddha.
  • – Great Lecture Hall: is the major work item of the temple, built in 925. This is where monks practice Buddhist studies and organize ritual activities. The building was struck by lightning and rebuilt in 990. The altar has a cluster of statues with a statue of the Medicine Buddha (Yakushi Nyorai) in the center, flanked by two Bodhisattva statues, Nikkō Bosatsu (Sūryaprabha) on the right and Gakkō Bosatsu (Candraprabha) on the left.
  • Kyozo Building (Sutra Repository): located on the left side of the temple yard, built in the 8th century, is the place to store Buddhist scriptures and books.
  • – Shoro bell tower (Bell house): located to the right of the temple grounds, built in the 8th century, is a typical bell tower of the Nara Period.
  • – Kami no Mido (Hare/Inner Sanctuary): located at the back of the temple complex.
  • – Saiendo Building (Western Street / West Round Hall): the building has an octagonal plan located on the west side of the temple.
  • – Building Shoryoin (Holy Monastery/ all of Prince Shotocu’s Soul); The building is located along the east side of the temple. This is a residence for monks and a space to worship Regent Shōtoku, his family and associates. The building along the west side of the temple is also a Heian Period monastery.
  • – Daihozoin (Gallery of Temple Treasures): building located on the east side of Shoryoin, is the place to store Buddhist art treasures in the 6th and 7th centuries. The building was built in 1941.
  • – The Kudara Kannondo Building (The Kudara Kannon Hall): The building is located behind the Daihozoin building.
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Tō-in (Eastern Institute)

The Tō-in area is located about 1200 meters from the Sai-in (Western Institute) Quarter, formerly the private palace of the Regent Shōtoku, built in 601.

Some important construction items in the Tō-in Area (from the main entrance) include:

  • – Todaimon Gate (East Gate/ East Main Gate).
  • – Yumedono Building (Hall of Visions/ Hall of Dreams): is the main building in the Tō-in District, built in 739, in memory of Regent Shōtoku. The building has an octagonal plan, located on a 2-storey stone-paved courtyard. The top of the roof is decorated with a lotus flower, a vase, a jewel and tree branches. The shrine contains a gilded wooden statue of Shōtoku, 197cm tall, discovered in 1884. For centuries, the statue was protected by wrapping it in layers of cloth, believed to preserve divine powers. special feature of the statue, called “Hidden Buddha” (Guze Kannon). It also features a portrait of Shotoku, which is only visible to the public for one month each spring and one month in autumn.
  • – The Shaiden (Reliquary Hall) and Eden (Hall of Paintings): a place containing relics, murals, was rebuilt in 1219. It houses paintings painted in 1069, depicting the stage in the life of the Regent Shōtoku.
  • – The Denpodo (Hall of Buddhist Teachings): originally the work was the royal palace, later converted into a space for teaching Buddhist scriptures in the 8th century and remains intact to this day. The building contains twenty Buddhist sculptures from the Nara and Heian Periods.
  • – Toin Shoro (Bell House of the Eastern Precinct): is an independent standing bell tower, located in the east of the complex. The bell is shaped like a wide trapezoid at the bottom, dating to the Nara Period.
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Toin Shoro bell tower

2. Hokki-ji Temple

Hokki-ji Temple, located northeast of Hōryū-ji Temple, is one of the few temples in Japan that still retains architecture from the Nara Period. The temple was built to worship Kanzeon or Kannon. /Padmapani / Avalokitesvara; embodiment of the compassion of all Buddhas).

Hokki-ji is generally considered to be one of the seven great temples founded by Regent Shōtoku, which began construction in 638, but was completed only long after his death.

According to legend, the temple is located in the Okamoto no Miya palace area, where Shōtoku preached the Lotus Sutra in 606 (the Lotus Sutra, being one of the most popular Buddhist discourses, had a great influence on the culture. East Asia for over 1400 years). According to the wishes of His Holiness the Crown Prince Shōtoku, the palace was converted into a Buddhist temple.

The only surviving building is a 3-storey tower (Tam Trung Thap/Three-storied pagoda) 24m high. This is one of the oldest stupas in Japan, built in 708.

In 1678, the temple was restored and the new construction of the Lecture Hall was built in 1694. Then, the Shoten-do Hall (Shotendo Hall) was added in 1863.

In the temple, there is a statue of Quan The Am 11m high, made of wood, built in the second half of the 10th century.

Map of the Buddhist architectural complex of the Horyu-ji . area

Horyu-ji Temple Area

Hokki-ji Temple Temple Area

Video about Horyu-ji Temple Buddhist Architecture Complex

UNESCO World Cultural/Natural Heritage Sites

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