Attraction 48 Noboriojicho Nara, Nara Prefecture 630-8213 Japan Published on: 29-06-2016
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Why Kofukuji Temple is special ?
Kofukuji Temple is an impressive complex of buildings, many of which are National Treasures. In 1998 Kofukuji Temple was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site as part of the "Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara" listing. Kofukuji Temple is the headquarters of the Hosso school in Japan.
Kofukuji Temple was first established in 669AD when Kagami-no-Okimi established a temple on his family's estate in Yamashina Suehara (now part of the Kyoto Prefecture) to pray for the recovery from illness of the statesman Fujiwara-no-Kamatari. Not long after Kofukuji Temple was moved to Umayasaka (Nara Prefecture), and named Umayasaka-dera. In 710 Nara was established as the capital of Japan and Kofukuji Temple was moved to its current site with its name changing to its current one. Kofukuji Temple was the first temple to be moved to Nara and with its central location it grew in power and wealth.
What to explore at Kofukuji Temple?
The Kofukuji complex includes two pagodas, located on either side of the southern entrance. The Three-Story Pagoda is on the west and the Five-Story Pagoda (Gojunoto) is on the east. The Five-Story Pagoda was built in 725 by the Empress Komyoh and last rebuilt in 1426. One of the symbols of Nara, it is the second highest pagoda in Japan (after Toji in Kyoto) with a height of 50.1 metters.
The Eastern Golden Hall (Tokondo) was originally constructed in 726 by Emperor Shomu to speed the recovery of the ailing Empress Gensho, and is dominated by a large image of Yakushi Nyorai (the Healing Buddha). Rebuilt in 1415, the Tokondo also houses a 12th-century wooden Monju (bodhisattva of wisdom), long worshipped by scholar monks and today by students; and guardians and assistants of Yakushi.
The temple's Treasure House (Kokuhokan) is one of the highlights, with displays of statues and artworks originally contained in the temple buildings. Among the most notable treasures are an 8th-century statue of Ashura (one of Buddha's eight protectors) carved in the 8th century, an even older bronze head of Yakushi Nyorai, and 12th-century carved wooden statues of priests with strikingly human facial features.
There are two octagonal buildings at Kofukuji: the Hokuendo (Northern Octagonal Hall) and the Nanendo (Southern Octagonal Hall). The Hokuendo was built in 721 by the Empress Gemmei and the Emperor Gensho in honor of the first anniversary of the death of Fujiwara Fuhito. The current building dates from 1210 and is only open during special periods in the spring and fall.
The Nanendo (Southern Octagonal Hall) is important because it is temple #9 on the West Japan 33-temple pilgrimage route. Founded in 813 by Fujiwara-no-Fuyutsugu, the present building dates from 1789.
How to get to Kofukuji Temple?
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.
- Nice world heritage site with deer
- Wonderful Collection of Buddhist Statuary
- Beautifull statues in museum
- Impressive Structures, Unpleasant Setting
- World Heritage Listed Buddhist Temple
48 Noboriojicho Nara, Nara Prefecture 630-8213 Japan
Tips for you
This is a lovely temple, paired with a beautiful pagoda to match. This is probably the first major temple you'd notice when arriving to Nara, heading towards Nara park. While there are a few deer roaming around, most of the deer are located further down the road. The temple and pagoda are located in an open space, which allow a lot of visitors to stroll around them. While they were being partially renovated, you could still see their splendor. Entrance is free, so you might as well go through the place, if only to see the pagoda. If you finish your visit to Nara in the evening, make sure to visit again after dark, when the entire place is beautifully lit.