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Hōryū-ji (法隆寺, lit. Temple of the Flourishing Law) - A Buddhist temple in Ikaruga, Nara Prefecture, Japan. Its full name is Hōryū Gakumonji (法隆学問寺), or Learning Temple of the Flourishing Law, named as such because the site serves as a seminary as well as a monastery. The temple is widely acknowledged to have some of the oldest wooden buildings existing in the world, and is one of the most celebrated temples in Japan. In 1993, Hōryū-ji was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Japanese government lists it as a National Treasure.

The temple was originally commissioned by Prince Shotoku; at the time it was called "Ikaruga-dera"(斑鳩寺), a name that is still sometimes used. This first temple is believed to have been completed by 607. Hōryū-ji was dedicated to Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of healing and in honor of the prince's father. Excavations done in 1939 confirmed that Prince Shotoku's palace, the Ikaruga-no-miya (斑鳩宮), occupied the eastern part of the current temple complex, where the Tō-in (東院) sits today. Also discovered were the ruins of a temple complex which was southwest of the prince's palace and not completely within the present temple complex. The original temple, named by modern historians and archaeologists Wakakusa-Garan (若草伽藍), was lost, probably burned to the ground after being hit by lightning in 670. The temple was reconstructed but slightly reoriented in a northwest position, which is believed to have been completed by around 711. The temple has been repaired and reassembled in the early twelfth century, in 1374, and 1603.

After the long controversy ignited by architecture historian Sekino in 1905, the majority consensus view as of 2006 is that the current precinct is a reconstruction. The excavations in 1939 that uncovered the older temple site including architectural remains of a Kondo and a pagoda, are accepted as conclusive proof. The original complex, Wakakusa-Garan, probably burned down, but there is still a debate as to whether a fire actually occurred in 670, as recorded on the Chronicles, or whether there was another reason.

The current temple is made up of two areas, the Sai-in (西院) in the west and the Tō-in (東院) in the east. The western part of the temple contains the Kondo (金堂, Golden Hall) and the temple's five-story pagoda. The Tō-in area holds the octagonal Yumedono Hall (夢殿, Hall of Dreams) and sits 122 meters east of the Sai-in area. The complex also contains monk's quarters, lecture halls, libraries, and dining halls.

Information source: “Hōryū-ji.” Article date: 17 Dec. 2007. Retrieved: Wikipedia. 2 Feb. 2008 <Hōryū-ji>.

Video - The following is a video showing the Hōryū-ji complex.





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