by Kentaro Ohno
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Horyu-ji Temple 法隆寺

Horyuji is home to some of the world’s oldest intact wooden structures, conveying the images of Japan as it was over 1,300 years ago during the Asuka era. The founding of Horyuji is recorded in historical engravings on the back of the halo of the Yakusi Nyorai Buddha statue, located on the eastern side of the room in the temple’s main hall.

The writings state that the temple was founded by Emperor Yomei who had vowed to build a temple and an image of the Buddha as a prayer for his own recovery from illness, however, he died before its completion.

Containing over 2,300 important cultural and historical items and structures, of which around 190 have been designated as National Treasures or Important Cultural Properties, Horyuji became the first cultural treasure of Japan to be recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage in 1993 for its unique collection of world Buddhist culture.

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The only downside to this temple is the relative distance from Nara Park. Like the Toshodaiji, the Horyuji is steeped in history. If you have the time to make the trek, try to hit both the Toshodaiji and the Horyuji in the same trip, and save all of the Nara Park temples for another day.

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