Japanese Version

Horyu-ji Temple: A 1300-year old gem

Photo attributed to 663highland, Wikipedia

I discovered magnificent Horyu-ji Temple in Nara fairly late in my 38-year love affair with Japan. A Unesco World Heritage site, Horyuji is a 1300-year old site and the only existing Chinese Sui Dynasty architecture of its kind in the world. It looks dramatically different from other Japanese Buddhist temples, which are strongly Japanized versions of many eras of Chinese styles. Horyuji also the oldest wooden site in the world, at a time when Japanese were still copying the Chinese. It wasn’t a couple hundred more years before innovation became more common.


Of the many treasures of Horyu-ji, the Kudara Kannon, a Korean-made statue of Kannon (Guanyin in Chinese), Bodhisattva of mercy, is the most famous. The tall, slender and stunningly beautiful statue bears great resemblance to the sensuous style of the earlier Chinese Wei Dynasty, with its strong Indian influence.