The Nara Basin (also known as the Yamato Basin) which extends to the south of the town is watered by tributaries of the River Yamato, which flows west from the plain and reaches the sea south of Osaka. In this area are numbers of other temples dating from the early period of Japan.
The Horyuji Temple is a great example of Asuka period architecture. It was one of the "Seven Great Temples of Nara" and an important Buddhist center in Japan. The site is a temple complex with many buildings.
Chuguji Temple was a nunnery of which the abbesses were originally members of the Imperial family. The temple contains an expressive wood figure of Nyoirin-Kannon (6ft/ 1.8m high), said to be the work of Shotoku, and the Tenjukoku Mandara, a fragment of the oldest known work of embroidery in Japan (7th C). The mandara, originally 16ft/ 4.8m long, was worked by Shotoku's widow and her ladies-in-waiting and depicts scenes from life in the Asuka period.
The Horinji Temple was built in 621 by a son of Shotoku-taishi. The dominating feature of the Kondo (Main Hall) is the seated wood statue of Yakushi-nyorai in the Toribusshi style, influenced by Chinese and Korean models. The hall also contains statues of Kichijo-ten, Sho-Kannon and Bishamonten of the Late Heian period. In the Kodo (Lecture Hall) are painted wooden statues of the Eleven-Headed Kannon (16ft/ 4.8m high), Kokuzu-bosatsu and Jizo-bosatsu.
The Hokkiji Temple can be reached from Nara by a train from the Kinetsu-Nara Station. This was founded in 638 by a priest named Fukuryo, who thus fulfilled the last wish of Shotoku-taishi (574-622). It is also known as the Okamoto Temple, after the site of Shotoku-taishi's palace where the temple was built. The three-story pagoda, dating from 685, is in the style of the Early Nara period.
Map of Nara Attractions