About Horyuji Temple, Nara
As one of the first temples in Japan to be listed as a World Heritage Site, Horyuji Temple is a place of honor, and its title as the world’s oldest wooden structure is enough to make it proud of the world. However, the temple is humble and introverted. Because of its remote location, few tourists visit the temple, and the occasional tour group, a group of Japanese high school students, speaks softly and quietly, fearing to disturb the quietness of this Zen forest.
Nara Horyuji Temple Opening Hours
February 22-November 3, 8:00-17:00, November 4-February 21, 8:00-16:30
How to get there
Take the JR Kansai Line from JR Nara Station and get off at Horyuji Station, then walk for about 20 minutes.
You can also take a bus from JR Horyuji Station to Horyuji Monzen and get off at Horyuji Monzen.
Or take a bus from Kintetsu Nara Station to JR Oji Station and get off at Horyuji-mae.
Since Horyuji Temple is far from downtown Nara, it takes about an hour each way by bus, and the frequency of transportation to the temple is not very frequent, so please allow a long time to travel, and plan your trip well in advance.
Adults 1,500 yen, elementary school students 750 yen
When it comes to Horyuji Temple, it is necessary to talk about a man who was one of Japan’s greatest statesmen and a central figure in the Daika Reformation: Prince Shotoku. Built in the Hitori period, this temple building, which now covers an area of 190,000 square meters, is divided into two parts: the east and the west. In the west, the west wing of the temple is centered around the five-storied pagoda and the Golden Hall, while in the east, the east wing of the temple is centered around the Dream Hall.
The cost of 1,500 yen was the most expensive of all the temples I visited in Japan. But the moment I crossed the 1,400 year old threshold, I knew it was worth it. Standing in the center of the central gate of the west courtyard garan, it was as if I was having a conversation with two thousand-year-old men. The asymmetrical shape of the Golden Hall on the right hand side and the five-story pagoda on the left hand side make the two, which are not on equal footing, reflect the unique thinking of the Japanese behind them. The Golden Hall is the earliest wooden structure in the temple and the world.
The exaggerated eaves are like a sacred bird with wings ready to fly, and when you look closely, the cloud-shaped arch and 10,000-word balustrade are interspersed with it, which is quite a legacy of the Six Dynasties. It is said that the East Gate Garan, which is opposite to the West Gate Garan, was originally the bedchamber of Prince Shotoku and was built by the monks after the Prince’s death. Horyuji Station is an 11-minute ride on the JR Yamato Line from Nara JR Station, and the fare is 220 yen.
After leaving the station, you can walk 20 minutes to Horyuji Temple according to Google Maps. Horyu-ji Temple is a complex of buildings, and a combined ticket for the Higashiin Jaran, Nishiin Jaran and the National Treasure Museum costs 1,500 yen, while all others are free. The East Gate, Golden Hall, Five-storied Pagoda, Cloister, and Lecture Hall, all of which were built 1,000 years ago, are very valuable, and most of the statues inside are national treasures of Japan.
The Saion Karan is an octagonal building, and the number “eight” represents the eight islands in Japan, which is the most auspicious number in Japan. The courtyard is not large, so you can walk around almost in a circle, but there are many buildings that are worth seeing, for example, I really like the clock tower in the corner of the corridor.
Prince Shotoku, the builder of Horyuji Temple, was born on February 7, 574 (January 1, the 3rd year of Emperor Minda) and died on April 8, 622 (February 22, the 30th year of Emperor Taiko).
Prince Shotoku sent an envoy to China to introduce the advanced culture and system of China in the midst of international tensions, and established a centralized state system centered on the emperor by formulating the Twelve Orders of the Crown and the Seventeen Articles of Constitution.
Prince Shotoku was a strong believer in Buddhism and promoted it during his reign.
In 607 A.D. (15th year of Emperor Taiko’s reign), Prince Shotoku changed his hard-line foreign policy to a policy of good neighborliness and sent Ono-chan as an envoy to the Sui Dynasty to strengthen friendship with the Sui Dynasty.
In 607, Ono visited Sui and arrived in Luoyang in March of the following year.
Emperor Yang of Sui immediately sent Pei Shiqing to lead a delegation of 13 people to return to Sui, and Ono Meiji accompanied her back to China.
In April of the same year, Pei Shiqing arrived in Chikushi (present-day Fukuoka), reached Namba (present-day Osaka) on June 15 and entered the capital (present-day Nara) on August 3 under the grand welcome of the Japanese royal family.
On August 12, Pei Shiqing went to see the Emperor of Japan and presented the above-mentioned objects and the national letter.
At that time, Prince Shotoku and the kings and ministers, all wore gold bun Hua, brocade and purple embroidery and five-color damask to the meeting ceremony, which shows the importance of the Japanese side.
According to Japanese scholar Yamauchi Chang, in 608, when the Japanese palace hosted a banquet for the Sui dynasty’s emissary Pei Shiqing and others, “two pairs of chopsticks and a spoon were used as official tableware and placed on the dinner plate, which is the earliest official record of the use of chopsticks in Japan”.
The culture of chopsticks, which originated in China, has evolved over time to become a typical representative of Japanese culture.
Ono-mei-ko (565-625) was a Japanese politician of the Hitori period. According to the Chronicle of Japan, she came to the Sui dynasty as an envoy to the Sui dynasty, making two trips in 607 and 609.
His Chinese name in Sui was “Suingao”, which is a Chinese consonant of his name. Although she was called “Meizi”, she was a male (at that time, the word “Zi” could be used by both men and women).
In 609 A.D., Ono’s sister came to China again as an envoy to send back the Sui ambassador. This time, the letter was addressed to the Emperor of the East and the Emperor of the West, cleverly avoiding the issue of the relationship between the two countries and bringing with her a group of foreign students and monks.
In this way, the Sui court’s diplomatic necessity to make diplomatic relations with the far and near and the Yamato court’s urgent need to learn the political system and culture and education of China led to the first climax of the official exchange between the two countries.