Nara_Horyuji

Horyuji

Horyuji (Temple of the Flourishing Law) is located in Ikaruga, Nara. It was founded in 607
by Prince Shotoku as a private chapel near his palace (which was where the East Temple is)
dedicated to Yakushi Nyorai (the Healing Buddha) in honor of his father, Emperor Yomei (d. 587).
Japan’s first UNESCO World Heritage site, the Hondo is the world’s oldest wooden building, and
the Gojunoto is the oldest wooden pagoda (built in 700 and 710 respectively). The Chumon and
the Kairo are also 1300 years old and were built in nearly the same time frame. When you
are standing in the inner area of the temple, you are surrounded by 7th-8th century
Asuka period architecture, and you can really feel the age in the atmosphere.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

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There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
— Horyuji Temple is in the following Gallery (Direct Link) —

Japan: Nara Temples
Horyuji, Todaiji

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Horyuji_TempleApproach_9937


Horyuji Temple Approach 9937

The path leading to Horyuji is lined on both sides
with the residences of the monks. Several of these
are also Important Cultural Properties of Japan.

Horyuji_MonksQuarters_9938


Horyuji Monk’s Quarters 9938

The roof over the gate to the left is a Chidori
(Plover) dormer style, while the one in the image
above is Kara (arched, see information below).

Kara-hafu gables are entirely an invention of the Heian-period Japanese. Kara can be translated as “China”, and Kara-hafu are often translated to mean Chinese-style gable, but reasearch indicates that the name was selected because Kara also means noble or elegant, and Kara-hafu were often used in architecture to denote the prestige of the building and as a symbol of authority, thus the gate above right is to the most prestigious quarters. The first-known depiction of Kara-hafu is on a miniature traveling shrine (zushi) in the Horyuji Shoryoin (a worship hall which is dedicated to Prince Shotoku).

Horyuji_MonksQuarters_9940


Horyuji Monk’s Quarters 9940

The monk’s quarters, on the right, closest to
the temple. This is seen in the center distance
of the image directly above this one (9937).

Horyuji_9943


Horyuji 9943

The entrance to the West temple. The Chumon
gate houses Japan’s oldest Nioh sculptures.

Horyuji_Chumon_Gojunoto_9942


Horyuji Chumon Gojunoto 9942
(Chumon = Middle Gate)

The Chumon is one of the oldest structures at Horyuji, rebuilt in the first group after the
670 fire destroyed the temple in its old location. On both sides of the gate, you can see
the Nioh sculptures, shown in detail below. On the left, the Gojunoto peeks over the wall.

The Chumon gate is characteristic of Asuka-period architecture. Supported by five pillars,
the central pillar splits the gate in two. By tradition, the left side was for worshippers to enter
and the right (Eastern) side was for the dead to depart for paradise. The pillars show a slight
swelling in the middle (a characteristic entasis of Akusa-style columns also seen in the Kairo).

HoryujiNio_Ungyoh_Agyoh_9952-53


Horyuji Nio Ungyoh Agyoh 9952-53
(Composite will open in a second window)

Available as an XL Composite (3188 x 2433)

The Nio (kongo-rikishi) are the oldest in Japan (711 AD).

On the right (red face and open mouth) is Agyoh, the other is Ungyoh.
Nio are guardian gods, and these two guard the temple from the Chumon Gate.
Agyoh is the Guardian of the Light, and Ungyoh is the Guardian of Darkness (thus the colors).

The placement of the kongo-rikishi at Horyuji (Agyoh on right) is reversed
when compared to the placement seen at other temples such as Todaiji.

Agyoh (Misshaku Kongo) symbolizes overt violence, and bares his teeth.
Ungyoh (Naraen Kongo) symbolizes latent strength and holds his mouth shut.

The Nio are protectors who stand guard outside the gate at Japanese Buddhist temples, on
either side of the entrance. Their fierce appearance is to ward off evil spirits and keep the temple
free of demons and thieves. They represent two aspects of a single deity (Sanskrit: Vajradhara).

HoryujiNio_Ungyoh_9951


Horyuji Nioh Ungyoh 9951

Naraen Kongo

HoryujiNio_Agyoh_9948


Horyuji Nioh Agyoh 9948

Misshaku Kongo

Horyuji_Kairo_Chumon_ext_9956


Horyuji Kairo Chumon exterior 9956

Horyuji was the second temple compound built in Japan, after the temple in Asuka (the original capital of Japan, where it first became a state rather than a loose alliance of clan lords). There is some debate on this subject, as tradition holds that Prince Shotoku built the Shitennoji temple complex (Osaka)  in 593, before building Horyuji in 607.

Asuka was where the very first pagoda in Japan was built. There are only ruins left in Asuka of the temple and palaces.

The Chumon and Kairo (exteriors shown above) were rebuilt in the first group (with the Kondo and Pagoda) after the 670 fire and are 1300 years old.

The swelling (entasis) of the support pillars is a characteristic of Asuka-period architecture.

The interior of the Kairo (roofed colonnade) is at right.
(image below right details the bracket - no linked image)

Horyuji_WestKairo_9970


Horyuji West Kairo 9970

WestKairo_Bracket

Horyuji_Gojunoto_Kondo_9958


Horyuji Gojunoto Kondo 9958

The two oldest wooden buildings in the world are in the Western complex (Sai-in).

The Kondo, Gojunoto, Chumon (middle gate) and Kairo were constructed from the 7th C. to the
beginning of the 8th C. after a lightning strike caused a fire in 670 that burned the original Temple.

The Kondo was completed in 700 AD, and the Gojunoto in 710. The Gojunoto and Kondo were created at the end of the Asuka period (538-710), a period noted for its fine arts and architecture. Most knowledge of Asuka-era structures is based on the Horyuji buildings, as the only other source of information is contemporary writings and a few Asuka and Nara period drawings. The construction of these buildings is a fusion of architectural styles from Asuka-era Japan and from Eastern Han and Northern Wei China, along with some Korean elements (especially those of Baekje) and some elements specific to Horyuji not seen in later construction, such as the narrow, widely-spaced struts in the windows of the Kondo, Gojunoto and Kairo.

Horyuji_Gojunoto_9959


Horyuji Gojunoto 9959
(Gojunoto means 5-story pagoda)

Japan’s oldest existing pagoda. The wood in the central pillar was felled in 594 AD.
The pagoda is approximately 32.45m tall (122 ft.) and has resisted numerous earthquakes.
The central pillar is likely part of the reason... it is sunk three meters below the foundation.
The ratio of the roofs is 10:9:8:7:6, creating the graceful lines of this striking pagoda,
which is meant to be appreciated from the outside. The lower floor houses four
groups of clay statues (created in 711) depicting the life of Buddha.

Horyuji_Gojunoto_detail_9964


Horyuji Gojunoto detail 9964

OK... admit it. You would have at least thought about doing this too.

Detail of the roof construction of the oldest wooden pagoda in the world.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

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There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
— Horyuji Temple is in the following Gallery (Direct Link) —

Japan: Nara Temples
Horyuji, Todaiji

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Horyuji_Kondo_9961


Horyuji Kondo 9961

The world’s oldest wooden structure, the Kondo (Golden Hall) at Horyuji has a doubled lower roof.
It shows several features of Asuka-era construction that along with the entasis (swelling) columns
of the Chumon and Kairo offer the only existing representations of Asuka architecture. The railings
with their swastika pattern and inverted V-shaped supports are similar to designs seen in grottoes
of Yunguang China (Northern Wei). The hybrid cloud-shaped bracket supports are native to Japan.

Horyuji_Kondo_detail_9971


Horyuji Kondo detail 9971

Note the Oni (troll) supporting the beam.
The cloud-shaped bracket support can be
seen clearly here, above the sweating Oni.

Horyuji_Kondo_detail_9972c


Horyuji Kondo detail 9972c

The Kondo has an amazingly complex support
 structure, but I think it was the intrepid Oni, Lions and
dragons that allowed it to survive the 1300 years.

Horyuji_Kondo_detail_9972


Horyuji Kondo detail 9972

Detail of some of the cloud-shaped brackets, which along with the entasis (swelling at the center)
of the pillars in the Kairo and some of the other Horyuji buildings are the only remnants of Asuka Architecture.

Horyuji_Ascending_DescendingDragon_9989


Horyuji Kondo Dragons 9989

The first story of the Kondo has a double roof. The second roof was added in the Nara
period (710-784). It required extra posts to hold up the first roof as it extended over four meters
past the building’s edge. The second story roof also has extra posts for support. All of these posts
are adorned with ascending and descending dragons. Above is a detail crop showing the space
between the upper roof of the first story and the 2nd story roof, showing the railings and posts.
You can also see the unique hybrid cloud-shaped bracket supports above the railings.

Note the swastika pattern railing and the inverted-V railing support. These, along with the
tile-on-tile on the lower roof are elements brought over by the Korean (Baekje) workers who
were instrumental in the creation of the Asuka-period architecture in Asuka and at Horyuji.

Horyuji_Chumon_roofDetail_9994c

Horyuji Chumon roof detail 9994c
(no linked image)

Note the tile overlay. This is placed exactly where the rain would fall from the upper roof.
This overlaid-tile structural element is present on all of the secondary (lower) roofs at Horyuji.
This helps to prevent damage to the roof and aids in the repulsion and carrying away of water.

Below is a composite of detail shots of the ascending and descending dragons on the posts.

Horyuji_Ascending_Descending_Dragons_9968-69


Horyuji Ascending and Descending Dragons 9968-69
(Composite will open in a second window)

Available as an XL Composite (3181 x 2469)

The dragons represent the principle of the Bodhisattva
(a Bodhisattva is anyone who is motivated by compassion and
seeks enlightenment not only for him/herself but also for everyone).

the ascending dragon rises to discipline himself and to strive for enlightenment;
the descending dragon extends his hand in compassion to rescue and provide salvation to all life.

Horyuji_Kondo_Gojunoto_9974


Horyuji Kondo Gojunoto 9974

One interesting departure at Horyuji from the mainland (Chinese and Korean)
temple architecture is that the Gojunoto and Kondo are side by side. There is evidence
that the first temple (that burned down in the 670 fire) was configured with the structures in a
line from the gate, as in mainland temple architecture, but the rebuilt temple is different.

Horyuji_Lantern_Kondo_9982


Horyuji Lantern Kondo 9982

Detail of the elaborate bronze lantern in front of the Kondo, showing the
kamon (family crests) of the Honjo (9 diamonds) and Matsudaira (3 hollyhocks)
clans (one Matsudaira changed his name to Tokugawa Ieyasu and became the first
Tokugawa Shogun, a dynasty that ruled Japan from 1615 until the 1868 Meiji Restoration),
and the Hoju (Houshu) sacred gem atop the lantern, believed to repel evil and fulfill wishes.

Horyuji_Lantern_Kondo_detail_9983


Horyuji Lantern Kondo detail 9983

A large detail crop of the ancient bronze lantern in front of the Kondo.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

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There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
— Horyuji Temple is in the following Gallery (Direct Link) —

Japan: Nara Temples
Horyuji, Todaiji

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Horyuji_YakushiNyorai_Jikokuten_9975_77


Horyuji Yakushi Nyorai Jikokuten 9975, 9977
(Composite will open in a second window)

Available as an XL composite (3135 x 2464)
Also available as an SXL with all three images (4938 x 2305)
(the third image is 9979, shown below) Click this text link for a preview.

In 587 AD, the ailing Emperor Yomei ordered the construction of a Buddhist Temple,
dedicated to the Medicine Buddha, Yakushi Nyorai (Buddha of Healing). He died not long
after issuing the order for the construction, but his heir Empress Suiko and her regent, the
famous Prince Shotoku, went forward with the project, completing it in 607. The images
above and below show the gilded wooden Yakushi Nyorai sculpture in the Lecture Hall,
flanked by Nikko Bosatsu and Gakko Bosatsu, the Bodhisattvas of Radiant sunlight
and Radiant Moonlight respectively. There are also statues of the four Shitteno
(Celestial Guardians), one of which (Jikokuten) can be seen in front of the
Bodhisattva on the right side of the composite image shown above.

10th c., National Treasures carved of Hinoki (Japanese Cypress, single tree).

Horyuji_Jikokuten_9977c


Horyuji Jikokuten 9977c

A detail crop of Jikokuten from the master image, resized down to 750 x 1290.

Horyuji_YakushiNyorai_9979


Horyuji Yakushi Nyorai 9979

Yakushi Nyorai and Gakko Bosatsu (Bodhisattva of Radiant Moonlight).
These sculptures are typical of Japanese Buddhist sculpture style of the Heian period.

Horyuji_Kyozo_9988


Horyuji Kyozo 9988

The Kyozo  (sutra library), a National Treasure, now houses a wooden statue of the
Baekje priest Kanroku, an Important Cultural Property. Kanroku brought the calendar,
astronomy and maps plus written material on geography to Japan from Baekje in 607.

Horyuji_Kyozo_9988detail


Horyuji Kyozo 9988 detail

The first use of arched structural support beams.

The Kyozo is quite important architecturally. Note above the pillars crossing the core
of the building, just below the roof. Supported on brackets are Kouryu (Rainbow beams),
used almost exclusively in temple and shrine architecture, and used first here. They bear the
dead load of the massive roof structures (and sometimes the ceiling). These early Kouryu are
gently curved and bear no decoration. Daibutsu style used in the medieval period are radically
curved, much larger, and often highly decorated. The Kouryu’s upper surface curves increase at
the ends to allow them to be inserted into the pillars or into brackets depending on location. Here,
there are two types, both Sotokouryu (exterior rainbow beams): above the lintel crossing the tops
of the pillars is a daikouryu that is inserted directly into the pillars through the lintel. Supporting
the gable is a special type of sotokouryu called a Tsumakouryu specific to those used in
the pediment of a gable roof. This style, called a nijukouryu is inserted into brackets
mounted on the arch of the daikouryu on both sides, and it both struts the bracket
extensions that support the center of the gable, and provides support itself to
the apex of the gable directly below the peak via a bracket at the center.

While it is possible that this technique was used earlier in Asuka
architecture, this is the earliest existing example even in the
drawings and written material available. Very interesting.

Horyuji_Chumon_9994


Horyuji Chumon 9994

The other side of one of the oldest wooden structures in the world, the Chumon (inner gate)
and Kairo (the roofed colonnade on  either side) were in the first group rebuilt after the 670 fire.

A link to detailed information (external website) is here.

Notice that the tie-beams supporting the roof both on the side and the ends of the Chumon
are straight, as opposed to the Kouryu (rainbow beams) shown on the Kyozo. The photo of the
end of the Chumon was at the top of this section, after the Nioh. The Chumon was built before the
Kyozo, and they had not yet determined the practicality of the arch with its greater structural strength.

The gate is supported by five centrally-swollen (entasis) pillars in the tradition of Asuka-period architecture.
This creates two openings. Traditionally, the eastern opening was used for worshipers to enter the compound,
and the western opening was used by the dead who were leaving for paradise. The two outer spaces
are used to house the kongo-rikishi (Nio), Agyoh and Ungkyo, shown at the top of this section.

Horyuji_Shoryoin_Higashimuro_9997


Horyuji Shoryoin and Higashimuro 9997

The Shoryoin was originally part of the Higashimuro (east dormitory) a living quarters for high ranking priests, but in 1121 it was rebuilt and the southern part was converted to a worship hall dedicated to Prince Shotoku. National Treasures.

Horyuji_MonksQuarters_0003


Horyuji Monk’s Quarters 0003

One of several houses between the West (Sai-in)
and East (To-in) temple precincts for ranking monks.

Detail of the Chidori gate of the next house is below.

Horyuji_MonksQuarters_gateDetail_0004


Horyuji Monk’s Quarters Gate Detail 0004

Horyuji_Sakura_9999


Horyuji Sakura 9999

Sakura lining the path leading to the To-in (Eastern compound) Gate.

The Oogaki (earthen wall surrounding the east, west and south parts of Sai-in) is a National Treasure.
Parts of the wall date back to the fifth and sixth century, when the original temple (Ikaruga-dera) was built.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

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There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
— Horyuji Temple is in the following Gallery (Direct Link) —

Japan: Nara Temples
Horyuji, Todaiji

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Horyuji_East_Shoro_0007


Horyuji East Shoro 0007

To-in Shoro (bell tower, a National Treasure), stands outside the East Kairo (roofed colonnade).
The lower part is in Hakamagoshi style (spreading skirt). The bell is now in the Chuguji nunnery.

Horyuji_EastShoro_detail_0026


Horyuji East Shoro detail 0026

The requisite dramatic wide-angle shot shows detail
of the bell-striking pole and structural elements. The
Kairo and the sacred jewel atop the roof of the
Yumedono can be seen in the background.

Horyuji_EastShoro_detail_0027


Horyuji East Shoro detail 0027

The roof of the Eden (Picture Hall) can be seen
behind the Kairo in the background of this image.

The Shoro was built in the early Kamakura period.

Horyuji_Rai-do_0009


Horyuji Rai-do 0009

The Rai-do (Worship Hall), built in the 13th century, is south of the Yumedono.

Horyuji_Rai-do_0014


Horyuji Rai-do 0014

Horyuji_Rai-do_0012


Horyuji Rai-do 0012

Horyuji_Yumedono_0011


The Yumedono (Hall of Dreams) was built on the ruins of Prince Shotoku’s palace in 739.
It is the oldest octagonal building in Japan. It contains the Yumedono Kannon (Guze Kannon)
which is only displayed on certain days of the year. The face is said to be that of the Prince,
and the statue is said to be a life size depiction of the Prince. A cult existed around Prince
Shotoku, as he was believed to have been an incarnation of Kannon (the Bodhisattva of
Compassion). This cult helped Horyuji survive the centuries of conflict unscathed.

The Prince was a very early aristocratic supporter of Buddhism, and was
personally responsible for building 46 temples (including Horyuji) and
for spreading the Buddhist teachings through Japan. He very early
renounced his ambitions to the throne, and pledged to devote
his existence to public duty. He created a centralized state
government, codified the twelve court ranks, wrote a
seventeen-article constitution that established
Buddhist ethics and Confucian ideals as
the moral foundations of Japan, and
established missions to China.

Horyuji_Yumedono_detail_0013


Horyuji Yumedono detail 0013

On the sides of the building, doors alternate with latticed windows. It exhibits
architectural characteristics of the Tempyo period (709-794). The double-terrace
is an Asuka-period feature rather than a Tempyo feature, but as the Yumedono was built
on the site of the Ikaruga Palace (Prince Shotoku), this may explain the use of the older style.

Horyuji_Yumedono_HojuDetail_0011


Horyuji Yumedono Hoju Detail 0011
(no linked image)

Detail of the Hoju sacred jewel (also Houjou or Hoshu) atop the Yumedono, and a comparison with the
Hoju atop the Ueno Park Bentendo (on the left), which seems to be modeled after the Yumedono jewel.
The ornament is notable in that it consists of a lotus flower, sacred vase, a canopy and the sacred gem.

The Hoju is believed to have the power to expel evil, cleanse corruption and fulfill wishes.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

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There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
— Horyuji Temple is in the following Gallery (Direct Link) —

Japan: Nara Temples
Horyuji, Todaiji

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Horyuji_EastKairo_0015


Horyuji East Kairo 0015

Horyuji_EastKairo_0018


Horyuji East Kairo 0018

The Higashi Kairo (East roofed colonnade) is a National Treasure.
The East Kairo was also built in the Asuka period, around 700 AD.

Horyuji_EdenShariden_Sakura_0021


Horyuji Eden Shariden Sakura 0021

The Eden (Picture Hall) and Shariden (Buddhist Ashes Hall) form the northern part of the To-in (east) compound. They are both Important Cultural Properties.

Horyuji_EdenShariden_0023


Horyuji Eden Shariden 0023

The Eden contains copies of a number of paintings which depict scenes from Prince Shotoku’s life (the originals are kept by the Emperor).

Horyuji_Ishidoro_0030


Horyuji Ishidoro 0030

Horyuji_Dragon_0031


Horyuji Dragon 0031

You didn’t think I‘d let you leave this page
without one last lantern shot, do you? [chuckle]

To make up for inflicting yet another lantern shot on the poor, unsuspecting viewer, I’m including this very unusual dragon fountain. The dragon seems to have climbed out of a hole in the floorboards, and has a long, sinuous reptilian shape.

This dragon is placed here as part of the Chozuya, where the visitors wash their hands before entering the temple.

Earth Dragons reputedly have the ability to purify water, and are often associated with water. There are a number of similar dragon fountains in Chozuya of early temples, but this dragon is quite unusual in shape, and other than the use of three claws, it resembles Chinese dragons (especially the head).

Horyuji_MonksQuarters_0029


Horyuji Monk’s Quarters 0029

To conclude the Horyuji page, I am providing
  one last Monk’s Quarters image. This one features
a beautiful Sakura tree and some interesting
tiles... especially the Shachihoko tile.

Shachi or Shachihoko (Killer Whale),
a tiger-headed carp-shaped tile, are placed
on the roofs of shrines, castles and temples
(and occasionally on domestic houses)
to protect the structures from fire.

This shachi has a fierce set of teeth.
(no linked image on the detail crop)

Horyuji_MonksQuarters_ShachiDetail_0029

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Japan Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

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There are 21 Galleries in the Photoshelter Japan Collection
— Horyuji Temple is in the following Gallery (Direct Link) —

Japan: Nara Temples
Horyuji, Todaiji

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