Kofukuji Temple

3 of 16 spots
in Nara
81% 693
votes
The Eastern Golden Hall and Five Story Pagoda
× How was it?

Kofukuji (, Kōfukuji) used to be the family temple of the Fujiwara, the most powerful family clan during much of the Nara and Heian Periods. The temple was established in Nara at the same time as the capital in 710. At the height of Fujiwara power, the temple consisted of over 150 buildings.

Today a couple of buildings of great historic value remain, including a five story pagoda and a three story pagoda. At 50 meters, the five story pagoda is Japan's second tallest, just seven meters shorter than the five story pagoda at Kyoto's Toji Temple. Kofukuji's pagoda is both a landmark and symbol of Nara. It was first built in 730, and was most recently rebuilt in 1426.

While entrance to Kofukuji's temple grounds is free and possible around the clock, there are two areas that require paying an entrance fee: Kofukuji's National Treasure Museum and the Eastern Golden Hall. The recently renovated National Treasure Museum exhibits part of the temple's great art collection and is an absolute must-see for lovers of Buddhist art. Among the many outstanding exhibits is the three-faced, six-armed Ashura Statue, one of the most celebrated Buddhist statues in all of Japan.

The Southern Octagonal Hall in the evening

The Eastern Golden Hall, located not far from the national treasure museum, features a large wooden statue of the Yakushi Buddha. Another pair of interesting buildings are the Northern and Southern Octagonal Halls. They both originally date back over a thousand years, and their present reconstructions were completed in 1210 and 1789 respectively. The buildings also house some of the temple's treasured artifacts, but are only open to the public a few days a year.

Kofukuji's main building, the Central Golden Hall, was destroyed in a fire in 1717 and - although a replacement hall was built on a smaller scale in the 1800s - the original Central Golden Hall was not reconstructed. In recent years, however, it was decided to rebuild the hall in its full former glory. Reconstruction works are currently ongoing and are scheduled to be completed in the year 2018.

Construction Notice: As mentioned above, the Central Golden Hall is presently being reconstructed and scheduled to be completed in 2018. Further reconstruction works around the hall are planned to continue until 2023. Despite the construction works, a visit to Kofukuji is still recommended.

Reconstruction of the Central Golden Hall (as of November 2015)

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Get There and Around

Kofukuji is a five minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station, or a 20 minute walk from JR Nara Station. Kofukuji can also be reached from JR Nara Station by clockwise running loop bus number 2 or any of the buses bound for Kasuga Taisha (7 minutes, 190 yen). Get off at Kencho-mae bus stop.

How to get to and around Nara

Hours and Fees

Hours

9:00 to 17:00 (National Treasure Museum and Eastern Golden Hall)

Closed

No closing days

Fees

600 yen (National Treasure Museum), 300 yen (Eastern Golden Hall), 800 yen (both)

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Asukaso

A fine ryokan with hot spring bath offering views of the famous five-story pagoda. Located in the heart of Nara town.

Japan Guide Recommends:

Asukaso

Centrally located ryokan with outdoor baths that view onto the pagoda of Kofukuji Temple.

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Hotel Fujita Nara

Regular business hotel located halfway between JR Nara Station and Nara Park.

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Nara Hotel

One of the oldest Western style hotels in Japan, located next to Nara Park.

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Page last updated: January 18, 2016