Horyuji Temple (@, Hōryūji) was founded in 607 by Prince Shotoku, who is credited with the early promotion of Buddhism in Japan. Horyuji is one of the country's oldest temples and contains the world's oldest surviving wooden structures. It was designated a world heritage site in 1993. Horyuji's temple grounds are spacious and separated into two main precincts, the Western Precinct (Saiin Garan) and the Eastern Precinct (Toin Garan).

Enclosed by roofed corridors, the Western Precinct is home to the world's oldest surviving wooden structures: the central gate (Chumon), the main hall (Kondo) and a five-story pagoda. They were built sometime in the Asuka Period (538-710) and have not suffered destruction ever since, although they have undergone renovations multiple times over the centuries.

The central gate is guarded by Japan's two oldest statues of Kongo Rikishi, the pair of muscular deities often seen flanking large temple gates. The main hall houses some of Japan's oldest statues of Buddha, rare creations surviving from the Asuka Period. Visitors can witness the evolution of Japanese Buddha statues by visiting the nearby great lecture hall (Daikodo) which exhibits statues from the Heian Period (794-1185) and have lost the more Indian appearance of earlier creations.

The Eastern Precinct can be found on the eastern side of the temple grounds, a five minute walk from the Western Precinct. In its center stands the octagonally-shaped Yumedono (Hall of Visions), which is dedicated to Prince Shotoku and houses a life-sized statue of the prince surrounded by statues of Buddha and various monks.

Between the two precincts stands the Gallery of Temple Treasures, which was built in 1998 to exhibit a part of the temple's huge art collection. Various statues of Buddha as well as Buddhist relics, artwork and paintings are on display inside. The entrance to the treasure hall is located towards the back of the complex near the Eastern Precinct.

Chuguji Temple ({, Chūgūji) is a separate temple located just behind Horyuji's Eastern Precinct. Chuguji is worth a visit for its celebrated main object of worship, a beautifully carved statue of a sitting Buddha who puts his right leg on his left and smiles gently. Note that a separate ticket is required for entry to Chuguji Temple.

Those who are unable to visit Horyuji in person may be interested to see a collection of the temple's religious objects that is on permanent display in Tokyo at the Horyuji Homotsukan building of the Tokyo National Museum.

Getting there and around

Horyuji is located about 12 kilometers outside of central Nara.

By train

From JR Nara Station, take the frequently departing Yamatoji Line to Horyuji Station (12 minutes, 230 yen). From there it is a 20 minute walk or short bus ride by bus number 72 to the temple (190 yen one way, departures every 20 minutes). Get off at the Horyujisando bus stop.

By bus

From JR or Kintetsu Nara Station, take bus number 98 to Horyuji-mae. The one way ride takes about one hour and costs 770 yen. There is one bus per hour. The bus line from Horyuji back to central Nara is numbered 97.

How to get to and around Nara

Hours and Fees

Horyuji Temple

Hours

Closed

Admission

Chuguji Temple

Hours

Closed

Admission

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    • Kotonoyado Musashino
      Luxury
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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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    • 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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    • Hilo Hostel
      Mid-range
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    • Guesthouse Tamura
      Budget-friendly
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    • Kasuga Hotel
      Luxury
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