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World Heritage / Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara

Criteria: (ii) (iii) (iv) (vi) | Date of Inscription: 1998 | Location: Nara Prefecture | Justification for Inscription


Things to see

Gangoji Temple

Gangoji Temple
Gangoji Temple
Hondo (Main Hall)
Hondo (Main Hall)
Zenshitsu (Zen Room)
Zenshitsu (Zen Room)
Gangoji Temple is one of Heijokyo's (the former name for Nara) seven main temples and originated as Hokoji Temple, Japan's first Buddhist temple proper in Asuka. When the capital was established in Heijokyo, the temple was moved to this new location and was renamed Gangoji Temple. Enjoying much prosperity during the Nara period, the temple and its grounds fell into disrepair around the middle ages and today it finds itself split into two temples, Gangoji Temple located in Chuin-cho, Nara City, and a second temple by the same name in Shibanoshin-ya-cho, also in Nara City. Gangoji Temple (Gokurakubo) in Chuin-cho is itself designated as a World Heritage Site and became popular among commoners following the middle ages of Japanese history. Its Hondo (Main Hall) and Zenshitsu (Zen Room) are reconstructions completed in the Kamakura period and today the Hondo and Zenshitsu of Gangoji Temple in Chuin-cho are ranked as national treasures.
Hondo (Main Hall)
The Hondo was reconstructed from a part of the old priest quarters and was done at a time when the timbers of the Nara period and tiles transported from Asuka were still available to reuse in the reconstruction. These recycled tiles in particular are unique in shape with a narrow upper part with a wider lower portion. All were set in the period specific Gyogibuki style.
Zenshitsu (Zen Room)
As the Hondo was reconstructed the Zenshitsu was also reconstructed from the old priest quarters. In the year 2000, the Gangoji Cultural Property Research Center announced that timbers cut in 582 AD were used for the making of Zenshitsu which, if one day confirmed, means that the Zenshitsu is actually older than Horyuji Temple - currently said to be the world's oldest wooden structure.
Goju-no-sho-to (Small Five Storied Pagoda)
The Goju-no-sho-to is a 5.5m high pagoda. Constructed in the Nara period and despite its size, it was designated as a national treasure in its own right as a 'structure' and not as merely the result of craftwork. Beneficially being situated indoors and thus protected from the elements it has hardly been damaged over the years and for many experts this small tower provides valuable information on the structures in use during the Nara period.
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