Horyuji Temple (Hōryūji) was founded in 607 by Prince
Shotoku, who is credited with the early promotion of Buddhism in Japan.
Horyuji is one of the country's oldest temples and contains the world's
oldest surviving wooden structures.
Enclosed by roofed corridors, the Western Precinct is home to the world's
oldest surviving wooden structures: the central gate (Chumon), the main
hall (Kondo) and a five-story pagoda. They were built sometime in the
Asuka Period (538-710) and have not suffered destruction ever since, although
they have undergone renovations multiple times over the centuries.
The central gate is guarded by Japan's two oldest statues of Kongo Rikishi,
the pair of muscular deities often seen flanking large temple gates. The
main hall houses some of Japan's oldest statues of Buddha, rare creations
surviving from the Asuka Period. Visitors can witness the evolution of
Japanese Buddha statues by visiting the nearby great lecture hall (Daikodo)
which exhibits statues from the Heian Period (794-1185) and have lost
the more Indian appearance of earlier creations.