Friday, July 19, 2013

Visit to the World’s Oldest Wooden Building

EMU JR West 221 series, "Yamatoji Rapid", arrives at Horyuji Station on the Kansai Main Line
 
On the day subsequent to our visit to Asuka-temple, we headed to the Ikaruga area to see the other old temples. Our destination was Horyuji Station on the JR West Kansai Main Line. We hopped on the "Yamatoji Rapid" train from Nara Station.

Along with Kintetsu (Kinki Nippon Railway), JR West is another giant transporter in Nara Prefecture. Our vehicle was EMU 221 series, an inter-city rapid train being operated between Nara and Osaka (see the top photo). The 221 series was launched in 1989 as the first train of JR West after the break-up and privatization of Japan National Railways in 1988. Passengers can use this luxury train with cozy seats without any extra charge. It is a good service because JR West faces severe competition from Kintetsu.

After getting off the train at Horyuji Station, we visited Horyuji-temple, which has the world's oldest wooden building. Look at the following picture. It is a five-story stupa. The original building was said to be constructed in 607. It was, then, reconstructed in 680, after total destruction by a fire in 670. This world's oldest wooden building was designated as a world heritage site in 1993.

Most Japanese people come here on a junior and/or senior high school excursion, as I did, but I didn't remember my visit clearly as I was not interested in temples at that time. I was probably an average teenager. Most people know the true value of beauty after they become adults.

 
Five-story stupa (the world's oldest wooden building, 680 A.D.) in Horyuji-temple near Horyuji Station
 
More information about JR West trains (in Japanese):