Horyuji is about 12 miles south west of the city of Nara. The temple was one of the first to be built in Japan and it’s early history is associated with Prince Shotoku who introduced Buddhism to the country. In 1993 it became the first site in Japan to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Three areas within this very large complex of buildings and grounds covering more than 300 acres are open to visitors. The Saiin Garan (Western Precinct) is the best preserved as a set of buildings and contains what is thought to be the world’s two oldest surviving wooden structures – parts of which survive from the sixth century. The Kondo (Main Hall) houses a bronze Asuka period statue of Shakyamuni cast in honour of Prince Shotoku, and next to it stands the Goju-no-to, (Five Storey Pagoda), another sixth century building.
In the centre of the site is a modern gallery and museum completed in 1998 containing many early Japanese Buddhist statues and other treasures.
This was the last temple in a long line of visits in Kyoto and Nara. I must admit I was flagging a bit, however in the museum was an item I have always admired in photographs. The statues, three of them, are on lotuses rising out of a single stalk set against an ornate screen. (anybody know the name of that?) Yes, I was very please to set eyes on that. Latter, as we came upon the museum of temple textiles it was closing time. Too bad.
We had caught the train out of Nara to visit this temple having left our luggage in a locker at the station. As luck would have it we just made the rail connection which took us on to our next destination, Kameyama. The memorable event there was asking at the hotel where we could get onto the internet and being lead at a very brisk pace down the road for a perhaps ten minutes by the man at reception only to realize that he didn’t in fact know of a place…he did try though.
As well as taking some time to relax after the intensive traveling I have also been attempting to sort out photos of temples and their significants, or special place, in our ancestry. I’ve made some progress and hopefully there will be a lot more pictures published before we leave for China on May 6th. I can hardly say ‘leave for China’ without a slight sense of disbelief creeping into my mind. There has been lots of activity which I’d love to write about, notably a wonderful visit in Tokyo last evening, however now it’s 1.05 am and I’d better go to bed.
I have published the photo below for no good reason except that I like it. The concept of people bringing their own seating arrangements to wait for a bus and then leaving for others is an interesting one.
Iain and three chairs waiting at the bus stop near the hostel in Kyoto.
Here are a few photos that show the part of temple visiting which, I must say, I enjoy. The children are obviously curious about me and given half a chance they start to ask questions and we get into conversations, all be it simple ones.
We visited Todaiji on a Saturday, the children were in their uniforms non the less. The park around Todaiji is famous for its tame, cheeky, deer. School children often wear their uniforms outside of school time, girls wear a variety of sailor suit uniforms and boys uniforms are modeled on Prussian Army uniforms. There is an explanation….