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Japan -> Nara -> Horyu-ji Temple
Horyu-ji Temple    Nara, Nara Prefecture

Horyu-ji Temple is considered to be the cradle of Japanese Buddhism and contains some of the world's oldest wooden structures from the early 7th century. Prince Shotoku, creator of the first national constitution, built the temple in 607 to ingrain Buddhism as a pillar of the Japanese belief system alongside Shinto. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the temple contains over 2,300 historical items, 190 of which are Important Cultural Assets or National Treasures.

The Five-Story Pagoda (Goju-no-To) is the oldest in Japan and the oldest building in the temple complex. Dating to the 7th century, the pagoda was brought from China where it had been designed after the Buddhist stupa in ancient India. The meaning of each level is up for debate, but some think that the represent the elements. At the base of the central pillar is believed to be a fragment of the Buddha's bone. The design of the pillars themselves, with their bowed shape, lends itself to classical Greek style - an influence of the Silk Road.



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