Yep, you guessed correctly. We’re talking about yet another ancient Nara (奈良) temple from the 8th century. There are just so many amazing temples to talk about, and Kofukuji (興福寺) is one of them. It is part of the huge area of Nara Park, located in its western vicinity.
Kofukuji Temple used to be one of the most powerful temples back when Nara was Japan’s (日本) capital. It was almost comparable to Nara’s head temple Todaiji (東大寺) and controlled by the powerful family clan named Fujiwara. Kofukuji used to have over 100 buildings under its control, including a very tall five-storied pagoda which still exists to this day. This pagoda is the second tallest pagoda in all of Japan, just 7 meters smaller than the one from Toji Temple in Kyoto (京都).
Kofukuji's Temple Grounds
Because of the many different building the temple holds, there is no unified age to these buildings. Most of them were destroyed at some point in history. The pagoda for example was rebuilt in 1426. Most recently finished is the temple’s main hall called Central Golden Hall. Construction works finished in October 2018 which means the hall is open to the public again.
Additional buildings include the Eastern Golden Hall, the National Treasure Museum and two Octagonal halls. Opening hours and entrance fee for the respective buildings will be mentioned down below.
The museum is a display of Kofukuji temple’s huge art collection and Buddhist statues with hundreds of years of age. The octagonal halls are located south and north of the main hall respectively and also hold immense historical value. Neither of them is open to the public unfortunately.
Kofukuji temple is a must-see for anyone interest in Japanese history, Buddhism or Buddhist art because this temple has got it all.
Opening Hours & Admission Fees
- The temple grounds itself are open 24 hours a day
the pay-to-enter buildings (Central and Eastern Golden Hall + Museum) are open from 9:00 – 17:00
- There are no closing days throughout the year
- Entrance fees vary by building:
Central Golden Hall: 500 Yen (4,03€/$4.55; exchange rate as of May 2019)
Eastern Golden Hall: 300 Yen (2,42€/$2.73)
National Treasure Museum: 700 Yen (5,65€/$6.36)
Combination Ticket Eastern Hall + Museum: 900 Yen (7,26€/$8.18)
How to get to Kofukuji Temple
As mentioned above, Kofukuji is located in the western area of the popular Nara Park.
Because of this, it’s basically right next to Kintetsu Nara Station. A short 5-minute walk will get you there.
From JR Nara Station, it’s about a 20-minute walk which I would recommend you do if you arrive at this station! It’s a very pleasant one. Alternatively, there are regular busses that are bound for Kasuga Taisha (Eastern Nara Park). Getting off at the Kencho-mae bus stop will lead you right to Kofukuji.
Kofukuji Temple is yet another one of Nara’s many historical treasures which you can still witness today. I think you might have noticed by now that people interested in Japanese history and/or Buddhism will have an especially great time here in Nara. Maybe even more so than in Kyoto, where temples are not quite as old most of the time (they are still breathtakingly beautiful though).
If you’re dedicated enough, you can do a nice loop tour to all the famous temples in Nara and be amazed by their impressive nature.
It’s also a very good time to be visiting the temple now, as the Central Golden Hall’s construction works have just been finished. The hall had been under construction for about 300 years, so it’s really special for it to be visible in its old glory.
That’s it for Kofukuji Temple, I hope you enjoyed it!
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See you there!