Horyu-ji Temple is inscribed as a World Cultural Heritage Site as the world’s oldest existing wooden structure. It was founded by a group of people that included Prince Shotoku, a son of the Emperor Yomei, in dedication to his father in the early 7th century. Horyu-ji Temple is also called Ikaruga-dera Temple, as it is located in Ikaruga-cho in the northwestern part of Nara Prefecture. It is said that it was burned down once, but then reconstructed by the early 8th century. Because it has swollen center pillars similar to the Greek ‘entasis’ style employed in the pantheons of Greece, it is a precious structure in terms of cultural propagation, as well as in architectural history.
The Nandai-mon Gate building is at the center of the approach way, and the Chu-mon gate building lies beyond it. Corridors extend to the east and west from the Chu-mon in a convex shape when looked at from above. Surrounded by these corridors are Kon-do Hall to the east and a five-storied pagoda to the west. The lower part of Kon-do Hall was burned during overhaul work in the mid-20th century, and murals estimated to have been drawn in the 8th century were tragically lost in the flames. This incident triggered public opinion to demand the protection of cultural items, which led to the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties. The murals were restored using reproductions of the originals.