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It stands on the site of one of Japan's earliest Buddhist temples, which he built. After entering through the Nandaimon (Great South Gate) walk down another long walkway to the Chumon (Central Gate) and the inner temple grounds.
Just past the fearsome Guardian Kings on watch for intruding evil, is the Sai-in, the western compound.
This contains Horyuji's five-storied pagoda and the Kende (main hall), built around 670 and the world's oldest wooden building.
Within the To-in (eastern compound) is the octagonal Yumedono (Hall of Dreams), who’s exquisite Guze Kannon statue was considered so sacred that it was completely hidden from human eyes from its dedication in 737 until 1884, when it was unwrapped by a visiting American art scholar —with the Meiji government's blessing of course.
Also in the eastern compound is the Daihozoden (Great Treasure Hall), housing Horyuji's magnificent collection of Buddhist art, among Japan's finest. Included are over 10,000 items, 1,780 of which are classified as national treasures or important cultural assets. Highlights include an Indian-style Shaka triad; the Yumechigae ("Dream Changing") Kannon, said to transform its worshippers' nightmares into pleasant dreams; and the Kudara Kannon, a graceful, willowy statue named after a region in Korea, whose designer and creator was almost certainly Korean. Horyuji was built by craftsmen imported from Korea, and the temple bears much of their distinctive artistic stamp.
Surprisingly, Horyuji also contains a building dedicated to a foreigner: Langdon Warner, a Harvard art professor whom the Japanese have mistakenly credited with saving both Nara and Kyoto from aerial bombing during World War 11. The decision to spare them was actually taken by Henry Stimson, the US Secretary of War, who knew the cities from his own pre-war visits.
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Naramachi is a famous neighbourhood of the Nara city; filled with beautiful old houses, tiny shops, eclectic art galleries, and facinating museums.
The Toshodaiji temple boasts rare examples of ancient architecture and sculpture. Less spectacular than some of the temples in expensively restored Nishi-nokyo which is its neighbor to the south, Toshodaiji nevertheless is the largest remaining example of Nara period architecture.
It has numerous period sculptures - the most celebrated is a 5-m (16.5-ft) thousand-armed Kannon statue.
For anyone interested in the history of Japanese art and culture, no visit will be complete bereft of a tour of Nara. Note that as well as it's magnificent cultural treasures; Nara offers the unlikely phenomenon of the world's most aggressive deer.
Although Kyoto endures as Japan's major historical and cultural centre, Japanese tourists, and you too should equally revere this the Kansai region's other fasinating historical center.
Found in the Nara Park and at the edge of the Sarusawa-ike pond is Kofukuji temple. It's impressive 50 metre or 165 foot, pagoda with 5 floors.
It is Japan's second-largest after the Toji pagoda which is located in Kyoto.
It is undoubtedly one of Nara's most photographed places. The present structure, which is still very old, as it dates from 1426, replacing some 5 pagodas each one destroyed by fire and then rebuilt.
In the past Kofukuji has comprised around 175 buildings, most of which have been lost. These include the Kasuga Grand Shrine, with which it has been closely associated for well over a thousand years. This is found at the foot of Mt. Wakakusa.
The surviving artworks of Kofukuji and other artifacts are housed in its newest building, the Museum of National Treasures. This is now a fire-proof building which was constructed in 1958 to honour Kofukuji's cultural and historic importance.
This is originally built part of museum. It is connected by a subterranean tunnel to a newer, tile-roofed structure just beyond it.
This museum of ancient art displays Buddhist statues and sculptural types from around the year 600 through the Middle Ages.
The permanent collection is housed in the old wing, and its fascinating exhibits showcase the development of Chinese influenced Buddhist art and design.
The gift shop in the underpass between the two buildings offers an excellent selection of quality souvenirs, reproductions, and posters of Nan culture.
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