A scene of Horyuji Temple in Spring
Horyuji (Flourishing Law Temple) is an important Buddhist temple in Ikaruga near Nara. Horyuji is of great historical importance: it was from here that Buddhism blossomed and spread throughout Japan. Today about 45 buildings remain, some of them dating from the end of the 7th century and including the oldest wooden structures in the world. The atmosphere at Horyuji is serene and authentically ancient.
The temple was founded in 607 AD by the much-revered Prince Shotoku, who is credited with first promoting Buddhism in Japan. Buddhism had arrived in Japan only 50 years before the temple was built. The main purpose of the temple (which was then named Ikarugadera) was to properly house a statue of the Medicine Buddha.
The original temple burned down in 670, but was gradually rebuilt until the early 8th century. Several buildings still survive from this early rebuilding period, making Horyuji the oldest surviving Buddhist temple in Japan.
In 1993, Horyuji was the first site in Japan to be added to UNESCO's Cultural World Heritage List. The Japanese government lists a number of buildings and artifacts of Horyuji as National Treasures.