Founded by Prince Shotoku, who is credited with presenting Buddhism to Japan, Horyuji is one of the oldest temples. It's principal hall, a five storied high pagoda and the central door, is located in the temples' s Saiin Garan (Western enclosure). It dates from the 7th century, and is the oldest survival timber structures in the world.

In 1993, Horyuji was designated as a site of heritage of the world by UNESCO. Unlike other historical attractions in Japan, Horyuji is wheel chair accessible and provides booklets in various foreign languages.

What to see

The kondo (main hall) of Horyu-ji is the oldest wooden building in the world dating back to the early 700's. It contains images of the Buddha which were dedicated to Shotoku Taishi's parents. It also contains Japan's oldest set of Shi-tenno (four heavenly guardians) which date back to the 7th or 8th century.

Beside the Saiin Garan is Daihozoin, which was recently built. Daihozoin is a hall which shows part of the art collection of the temple. The principal attraction of Horyuji's Toin Garan (Eastern enclosure) is Yumedono, the Hall of Visions.

Gojunoto (5-story pagoda) is regarded as the 2nd oldest building in the world, and the oldest pagoda in Japan. It stands 32.45m (122 feet)--quite an impressive site considering its age. It dates back to the 7th century.

Horyu-ji, located just outside of Nara City, was established by Shotoku Taishi in 607. The original was destroyed but reconstructed and repaired several times since then. It is still, however, one of the oldest wooden structures in the world. Originally, it was dedicated to yakushi nyorai (healing Buddha). It was also the grounds of what was once Prince Shotoku's palace. Excavations have uncovered several remains of the original palace and temple.

Horyuji is located about 12 km outside of central Nara.

By Train
From JR Nara Station, take the frequently departing Yamatoji Line to Horyuji Station (12 minutes). From there, it is a 20 minute walk or 5 minute bus ride to the temple.

By Bus
From JR or Kintetsu Nara Station, take bus number 60 which takes about 40 minutes to Horyuji-mae. Alternatively, take bus number 52, 97 or 98 which take about 15 minutes longer than bus number 60.