Japan’s First Cultural Heritage

Houryuuji ( 法隆寺) house the world’s oldest surviving wooden structures, conveying images of Japan as it existed more than 1,300 years ago during the Asuka Period( AD. mid 6th – beginning of 8th c. )


Yumedono ( Hall of Visions)

Nara Period: beginning of 8th -end of 8th c

The monk Gyoushin Souzo constructed in 739 a temple called the Jouguuouin or Jouguuou Temple- Jouguuou being another name of Prince Shoutoku – as a monument to the memory of the prince. He built this temple, the current Eastern Precinct, on the site where the Ikaruga Palace, which was built in 601, originally stood. The hear of the precinct is the Hall of Visions. Within this octagonal pavilion-the oldest of its kind in Japan-is enshrined the Kuse Kannon or Avalokitesvara the Savior ( Asakusa Period), a life size statue of Prince Shoutoku. Piously kept in its shrine throughout the centuries, this “Hidden Statue” has survived in a perfect state of preservation to this day retaining its original gilding.


Gojuu-no-Tou ( Five Story Pagoda)

Asuka Period( mid 6th -beg of 8th)

Standing 31.5 meters from its base, is the oldest five storied pagoda in Japan. On the east side, Yuimakoji(Vimalakirti) and Monju Bosatsu(Manjusri) are engaged in an exchange of Buddhist question and answer; on the north side, Sakyamuni Buddha is passing into nirvana; on the west side, the Division of the Relics of Sakyamuni Buddha is taking place; on the south side, Miroku Bosatsu(Maitreya) a future Buddha, is giving lecture.


Chuumon( Central Gate)

Asuka: mid 6th – beg 8th

The mighty gate doors and Japan’s oldest known clay guardian deities, or Kongou Rikishi (Nara Period: beg 8th -end of 8th) which tower on each side of the doorway, stand in imposing contrast to the delicate lattice windows of the Cloister Gallery, which stretches out to the east and west and surrounds the pagoda and Main Hall in refined splendor.


Kondou (Main Hall)

The sacred edifice in which are enshrined statues to which Houryuuji is dedicated. Within this stately building stands a bronze Asuka-period Shaka (Sakyamuni) triad, made by famous sculptor Tori, in honor of Prince Shoutoku.


Daikoudou ( Great Lecture Hall)

Heain: end of 8th -late 12th

This hall was originally built for monks to pursue their Buddhist studies and as a facility in which to conduct memorial services. Lightning struck the hall, as well as the Bell House, in 925, burning them both to the ground. The current lecture hall, the Yakushi triad( a buddhist “triad” is a Buddha flanked by two attendants) to which the building is dedicated, and the four heavenly guardians were rebuilt in 990.



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