Nara Temples: Hokiji Temple
Hokiji Temple 法起寺
Hokiji is a Shotoku sect temple of Japanese Buddhism, as is nearby Horinji.
History of Hokiji Temple
Hokiji is believed to have been previously a palace of Shotoku Taishi called Okamoto Palace.
According to his will, his oldest son, Yamashiro-no-oe-no-o, was to convert the buildings into a temple. A Main Hall was constructed in 638 to house an image of Maitreya (the Buddha of the Future).
Archaeological research and inscriptions on the buildings certainly point to the temple having been built in the 7th century. Like other temples in Nara, Hokiji declined after the capital moved to Kyoto from the Heian Period and it was taken over by Horyuji.
Just as at Horinji, by the early Edo Period only the pagoda of the original buildings was left standing. However, Hokiji was gradually restored. The Kodo or Lecture Hall was rebuilt in 1694 and the Shotendo Hall was completed in 1863.
Hokiji Temple Buildings
Hokiji's main buildings are the Edo Period Lecture Hall (Kodo) and the Main Hall (Shotendo; 聖天堂).
The three story pagoda (Sanju-no-to; 三重塔) dates from the Asuka Period making it one of the oldest such pagodas in Japan, thus earning UNESCO World Heritage Status.
A modern repository hold's Hokiji's great treasure a Heian Period statue of the Eleven-headed Kannon (Avalokiteshvara), an important Bodhisattva in the esoteric schools of Buddhism.
The buildings at Hokiji Temple were most recently renovated in the 1970's. The grounds are compact and contain a small pond. The temple is once again under the wing of its larger neighbor, Horyuji.
Oaza, Okamoto 1873
Ikaruga-cho, Ikaruga-gun, Nara Prefecture 630-0102
Tel: 0745 75 5559
Hours: 8am-5pm February 22 - November 3; 8am-4.30pm April 4 - February 21.
Admission: 300 yen.
Access - how to get to Hokiji Temple
To reach Horyuji Temple, which is located in the Ikaruga district, there are JR Yamatoji Line Osaka-bound trains to Horyuji Station. From here though it is still a long 2.5km walk to Hokiji Temple, and about 35 minutes from Horyuji and Chuguji.
Visiting Hokiji Temple is usually combined with seeing nearby Horinji Temple, about 15 minutes' walk west on the road to Chuguji.
Alternatively, take a #97 bus from Nara Station or Kintetsu Nara Station directly to Hokiji-mae bus stop. The journey time is about an hour.