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Kofukuji (興福寺, Kōfukuji) used to be the family temple of the Fujiwara, the most powerful aristocratic 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.

The temple features several buildings of great historic value, including a five-storied pagoda and a three-storied pagoda. At 50 meters, the five-storied pagoda is Japan's second tallest wooden pagoda, just seven meters shorter than the five-storied 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. Neither pagoda can be entered by the public.

While entrance to Kofukuji's temple grounds is free and possible around the clock, there are three areas that require paying an entrance fee: The Central Golden Hall, the Eastern Golden Hall and Kofukuji's National Treasure Museum (note that the Central Golden Hall is currently closed to the public).

Kofukuji's main temple hall, the Central Golden Hall, was destroyed by fire roughly 300 years ago and was not rebuilt in its original size until recently. After many years of reconstruction, the hall was reopened to the public in October 2018. East of the Central Golden Hall stands the Eastern Golden Hall which houses a large statue of the Yakushi Buddha.

Located not far from the Eastern Golden Hall, the 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.

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. They are not usually open to the public.

Getting 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 or any of the buses bound for Kasuga Taisha (5-7 minutes, 220 yen). Get off at Kencho-mae.

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Hotels around Nara

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    • Guest House Oku
      Budget-friendly
      A 5-minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station, Guest House Oku is located a 15-minute walk from JR Nara station. Guest House Oku features a total of 3 guest rooms and free WiFi throughout the property. All rooms come with air conditioning. A shared toilet and shower is available for guests. You will find luggage storage space at the property. Kofuku-ji is 900 metres from Guest House Oku, while Todaiji Temple is 1.4 km away. Kansai International Airport is a 95-minute limousine bus ride away.
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    • Guesthouse Naramachi
      Budget-friendly
      The 100-year old Guesthouse Naramachi offers simple Japanese-style accommodation just a 5-minute walk from JR Kyobate Train Station. The property is completely non-smoking. It offers massages, bicycle rental and free Wi-Fi throughout. The World Heritage registered Nara Park is a 10-minute walk away. Guests at Naramachi can choose a private room with tatami (woven-straw) flooring and Japanese futon beds. All rooms are air-conditioned, and bathrooms and toilets are shared. Bath towels, washclothes and Yukata robes can be rented. JR Nara Train Station is a 20-minute walk, and Kofuku-ji Temple is a pleasant 10-minute walk away through the traditional streets of Nara. Gangoji Temple and three public baths are available within a 5-minute walk. Various types of bicycles can be rented. A free-use kitchenette is provided, with a microwave, fridge and electric kettle. At time of booking, you must inform the hotel what time you plan to check in. If your check-in time changes, please update the hotel. Guests who require parking must inform the hotel at time of booking.
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    • NARA Visitor Center and Inn
      Budget-friendly
      The Nara Visitor Center and Inn is situated in the heart of Nara, just a 3-minute walk from Kofuku-ji Temple and Naramachi. The Todai-ji Temple and Deer Park are a 10-minute stroll away, while Nara Station on the Kintetsu Line is a 7-minute walk. JR Nara Station is 14-minutes away on foot. All guest rooms feature air conditioning and heating, and are equipped with a fridge and flat-screen TV. Japanese samue nightwear are available to all staying guests. Some units come equipped with an en suite bathroom with a shower, while some Japanese-style rooms come with an en suite shower. Japanese-style rooms feature tatami (woven-straw) floors and Japanese futon bedding. The property offers free WiFi access and a 24-hour front desk. Luggage storage is available. There is a public bath on site, where guests will find free toiletries and hairdryers. A coin launderette, a shared kitchen and free-use internet PCs are offered on site. The on-site tourist information desk offers information in English, Chinese and Korean. Services offered at the desk include transport and meal tickets at a discount, currency exchange, bike hire at a charge, cultural activities at an additional charge, such as Japanese calligraphy lessons, and tour arrangements. Some cultural activities such as origami folding are offered free of charge.
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    • Hilo Hostel
      Mid-range
      Hilo Hostel is located in Nara, within less than 1 km of Nara Station and 18 km of Iwafune Shrine. The 3-star hostel has air-conditioned rooms with a shared bathroom and free WiFi. The accommodation provides a shared kitchen, and luggage storage for guests. Higashiosaka Hanazono Rugby Stadium is 21 km from the hostel, while Nippon Christ Kyodan Shijonawate Church is 22 km away. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 53 km from Hilo Hostel.
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    • SETRE Naramachi セトレ ならまち
      Luxury
      SETRE Naramachi セトレ ならまち features free bikes, garden, a shared lounge and terrace in Nara. With a restaurant, the 5-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi. The property is non-smoking and is located 1.9 km from Nara Station. At the hotel, the rooms are equipped with a wardrobe. Each room comes with a kettle, while certain rooms include a balcony and others also offer mountain views. Guest rooms in SETRE Naramachi セトレ ならまち are equipped with a flat-screen TV and free toiletries. Staff speak English and Japanese at the reception. Iwafune Shrine is 19 km from the accommodation, while Higashiosaka Hanazono Rugby Stadium is 23 km away. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 54 km from SETRE Naramachi セトレ ならまち.
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    • Mountain Home Lodge in Deer Park
      Budget-friendly
      Mountain Home Lodge in Deer Park is situated in the Nara Park district of Nara, 3.3 km from Nara Station and 20 km from Iwafune Shrine. Complimentary WiFi is available throughout the property. There is a private bathroom with bidet in some units, along with free toiletries, a hairdryer and slippers. If you would like to discover the area, hiking is possible in the surroundings. Higashiosaka Hanazono Rugby Stadium is 23 km from the lodge, while Nippon Christ Kyodan Shijonawate Church is 25 km from the property. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 55 km from Mountain Home Lodge in Deer Park.
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    • Yuzan Guesthouse
      Budget-friendly
      Conveniently located a 5-minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station and a 8-minute walk from JR Nara Station, Yuzan Guest House Annex offers cosy accommodation with a shared kitchen. Free WiFi access is available throughout the property. Each room is simply decorated and comes with air conditioning and heating facilities. Guests can choose to stay in Japanese-style rooms featuring tatami (woven-straw) floor and futon bedding. Bathroom facilities are shared. At Guest House Yuzan Annex you will find a small garden, a terrace and a shared lounge. Free luggage storage is also available upon request. Guests can make a 10-minute stroll to the Nara Park, located in the city central area. Todaiji Temple and Heijo Palace are both a 10-minute drive away while Kansai International Airport can be reached with a 80-minute drive. Meals are not served on site.
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    • Guesthouse Tamura
      Budget-friendly
      Renovating a Japanese-style private house with a 100-year history, Guesthouse Tamura offers an accommodation in Fushigazushi-cho, Nara. Kintetsu Nara Station is a 13-minute walk away, while Kasuga Taisha Shrine is a 20-minute stroll. Every room comes with a shared bathroom. Some rooms feature tatami (woven-straw) flooring and Japanese futon bedding. You will find luggage storage space at the property. Vegetarian meals can be offered upon request. Kofuku-ji is 8 minutes on foot from Guesthouse Tamura, while Nara Park is a 20-minute stroll away. Osaka Itami Airport is 38 km from the property.
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    • Onyado Nono Nara Natural Hot Spring
      Luxury
      Featuring natural hot spring baths on site, Onyado Nono Nara Natural Hot Spring is set in Nara, just a 3-minute walk from JR Nara Station. Free WiFi is available throughout the property, and private parking is available on site. Guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant. Kofuku-ji Temple is 15 minutes on foot. All rooms include a flat-screen TV and electric kettle in the room. Rooms have a private bathroom fitted with a bath or shower and bidet. For your comfort, you will find slippers, free toiletries and a hairdryer. Extras include a fridge and toothbrushes. There is a 24-hour front desk at the property. Free luggage storage service is provided. Todaiji Temple is 10 minutes by car from Onyado Nono Nara Natural Hot Spring, while Nara Park is a 20-minute stroll from the property. Osaka Itami Airport is 37 km away.
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    • Hotel Rokune
      Mid-range
      Set within 17 km of Iwafune Shrine and 21 km of Higashiosaka Hanazono Rugby Stadium, Hotel Rokune provides rooms in Nara. Featuring a terrace, the 3-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a private bathroom. The property is non-smoking and is located 700 metres from Nara Station. All units are equipped with a fridge, microwave, a kettle, a bidet, free toiletries and a desk. At the hotel every room is equipped with bed linen and towels. At Hotel Rokune guests are welcome to take advantage of a hot tub. Nippon Christ Kyodan Shijonawate Church is 22 km from the accommodation, while Shijonawate City Museum of History and Folklore is 22 km away. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 52 km from Hotel Rokune.
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