Art meets history at this UNESCO Heritage Site.
Kofuku-ji Temple is among the most famous temples in Nara and is one of the city’s eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Its spectacular five-storied pagoda is as much a symbol of the city as the adorable deer wandering around in front of it.
The temple was founded in 710 – when Nara became Japan’s capital – by the powerful Fujiwara family. At the height of their influence, Kofuku-ji was a sprawling complex of over 150 buildings, although unfortunately fires and the anti-Buddhist policies of the Meiji period have since greatly reduced this number to the 11 that remain today.
Unlike most other temples, there is no imposing main gate marking the entrance – you might even find yourself on the temple grounds without realizing it! Don’t be fooled, however, as there’s plenty here worth visiting.
The National Treasure Museum houses an impressive and world-famous collection of Buddhist art and artifacts, while the five-storied pagoda is the second-tallest in the country at just over 50 meters. The Eastern Golden Hall contains more Buddhist statues, and the temple complex also features a three-storied pagoda plus a number of other halls and an ancient bathhouse.
Please note: The Central Golden Hall is undergoing reconstruction and scheduled to be closed until October 2018.