Prior to my visiting Horyuji, I knew that this Buddhist temple founded in 607 by Empress Suiko (one of just eight women to have ruled over Japan) and her nephew, Prince Shotoku, is home to the world's oldest surviving wooden buildings. But I didn't full grasp how large the temple complex is until I got there -- and perhaps because it's so vast, that's why much of it felt so deserted and quiet, especially relative to the major temples and shrines of Kyoto (particularly Kiyomizudera)!
If I had had a better idea of Horyuji's size, I would have allocated more time for my visit. As it was, I did rush about more than I would have liked. Even then, I ended up leaving this impressive temple complex so late that I missed the last bus back to the town's train station and, instead, shared a taxi there with a gentleman visiting from Kyoto who also had been spent some time that afternoon under Horyuji's spell... ;)
The view from the Nandaimon, Horyuji's southern main gate
which replaced an earlier structure in 1438
and on each side of its doorway stand large, fearsome-looking
guardian deities made of clay that date back to the 8th century
Horyuji's oldest structure is its 5-storey pagoda,
built during the Asuka period (538-710) to house
relics in the form of bone fragments of the Buddha
The nearby, similarly ancient Kondo (Main Hall) has
carvings of such as dragons adorning its outer columns
as well as treasured statues and wall paintings inside of it
A few hundred meters away, over in Horyuji's Toin Garan
(Eastern Precinct), can be found still other designated
National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties
The Eastern Precinct's centerpiece, the 8-century-old
octagonal-shaped Yumedono (Hall of Visions), is said to
have a particularly mystical atmosphere!
Eden can be found here too -- though, alas, just the
Eden that's the temple complex's Hall of Paintings
rather than the biblical garden of God! ;b
Puppet Ponyo poses near the Toin Soro (Bell House of the
Eastern Precinct), within which hangs an over 1,000-year-old bell!