Nara's Kofukuji Temple: Old and Beautiful

 Kofukuji was established in 710. Yes, 710. 1300 years ago. At one point, when the Fujiwara clan was at its most powerful, the temple was so large that the grounds held over 150 buildings!
 The Eastern Golden Hall, one of two buildings that require an entry fee, holds a large wooden statue of the Yakushi Buddha.
 I visited on a Golden Week holiday, so the line to get in was quite long! The other building that requires admission is the National Treasure Museum, full of the best, most important Buddha art in Japan. The collection includes a three-faced, six-armed Ashara Statue, one of the most celebrated Buddhist statues in the country.
 The five-storied pagoda is the second tallest in Japan, was built in 730, and was most recently rebuilt in 1426.
 There are two octagonal halls, each holding a few more artifacts. These buildings are open only a few days a year. As you can see, my visit coincided with an opening date, so I was able to peek inside!
 There are some beautiful flowers here.
 I tried to make "homemade" macaroni and cheese tonight. These flowers are much nicer.
Here's the other octagonal hall. I'm surprised that lines weren't long for the halls, though it was mid afternoon by the time I reached them. The tour groups must have moved on to the Eastern Golden Hall and the other temples in Nara.

The main building, the Central Golden Hall, is being reconstructed, but it won't be completed until 2018. Kofukuji is certainly still worth a stop.

Nara is a very important cultural location, and Kofukuji might be the most important site in town. Nara itself is just a short train ride from Kyoto (about 45 minutes by Kintetsu Railways) or Osaka (about 30 minutes by Kintetsu Railways). You save a few minutes using Limited Express trains but I don't think they're worth the extra charge over the regular express service.

Kofukuji is the first important destination you'll reach when walking east from the Kintetsu Nara Station - about five minutes away. The museum and Eastern Golden Hall are open daily 9:00-17:00, though the grounds are open 24 hours a day. Admission for the museum is 600 yen, the hall is 300 yen, and a combination ticket for both is 800 yen.

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