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gango-ji temple

formerly known as hoko-ji temple, gango-ji temple (元興寺) was the first buddhist temple in asuka. it quickly became the source of japanese buddhism and a center for many of the cultures from china to be introduced into japan. at the time, these unique cultural characteristics were known as asuka culture, and were subsequently propagated throughout japan.

gango-ji temple was later moved from asuka, a former capital of japan, to nara in the 8th century. gango-ji temple is one of the seven main temples of nara and was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1998.

when the temple was moved to nara, roof tiles and timber from the asuka temple were used in the reconstruction. as such the timber is undergoing studies to determine its age, which could make it older than horyu-ji temple, the oldest wooden structure in the world. the orange tiles that you can see in a couple of the photographs are original and dated to be over 1400 years old.

construction of the temple was only allowed after emperor sushun was enthroned in 587. his uncle won a critical battle against the mononobe clan, which was strongly opposed against the inclusion of buddhism in japan. due to a lack of knowledge for building a buddhist temple, king of paekche in korea sent many skilled laborers to asuka. they were instrumental in the construction of gango-ji temple.

this site is small and not as interesting as several other places in nara, with the main attractions being located in nara park. however, the buddhist picture paintings are very nice and the one in the hondo (main hall) is beautiful. look for it behind the buddha statue, on the other side.

to get to gango-ji temple, take the kanjosen (環状線) to tsuruhashi station (鶴橋駅). then change to the kintetsu line (近鉄) and board the nara-sen (奈良線) to the last stop, kintetsu nara station (近鉄奈良駅). from osaka station (大阪駅) its 650 yen, while the entrance fee to the temple is 400 yen. if you have a map available, you can certainly make the 15 minute walk south to the temple. otherwise i suggest taking a quick taxi ride.


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a short video clip of what was allowed to be filmed:

gango-ji temple’s location in nara:

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