Horin-ji Temple (Ikaruga-cho) (法輪寺 (斑鳩町))

Horin-ji Temple is a Buddhist temple located at Ikaruga-cho, Ikoma-gun, Nara Prefecture. It is also called Mii-dera Temple and written as "法林寺" (Horin-ji Temple) or "法琳寺" (Horin-ji Temple). It is a temple of the Shotoku sect and its principal image is a sitting statue of Yakushi Nyorai (Yakushi Nyorai, or the Healing Buddha).

It is located on the north of Horyu-ji Temple Toin (east area). The existing three-storied pagoda is not included in the "Buddhist Monuments of the Horyu-ji Area" because it is a structure rebuilt in 1975. Due to scares historical materials about the temple, the details of its foundation are unknown; however, judging from the archaeological findings it is certain that the temple had already existed in the mid seventh century. The principal image, sitting statue of Yakushi Nyorai and the statue of Kokuzo Bosatsu (Akasagarbha Bodhisattva) are also very old, dating back to the end of the Asuka period. Its another name, Mii-dera Temple, stems from the area Mii where the temple is located, and the name Mii comes the three wells associated with Prince Shotoku, which existed in the area at that time (one of the three wells still remains and it is designated as a national historic site).


Since there is no description about the temple's founding in the "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan) nor in the "Horyu-ji Garan Engi narabini Ruki Shizai Cho" (The origin of Horyu-ji Temple and record of construction materials), many details remain unclear.

There are two traditional theories regarding the foundation. One theory is found in "Shotoku Taishi denshiki" (the Private Recollections on the Life of Prince Shotoku) (written by Kenshin in 1238), and according to it, Prince Yamashiro no oe, son of Prince Shotoku, built the temple in 622 to pray for his father's recovery from an illness. Another theory is found in "Jogu Shotoku Taishi Den Hoketsuki" (Revised Biography of Prince Shotoku) (from the early Heian period) and "Shotokutaishi Denryaku" (Biography of Prince Shotoku) (written by FUJIWARA no Kanesuke in 917), and according to it, the temple was built by three persons from the Paekche Kingdom, Kai hoshi (Buddhist priest), Enmyo hoshi, and Shimotsui no Niimono, after the original Horyu-ji Temple was burned down. Although these names are also said to have been 'Mon shi, Enmyo shi, and Shimotsui no kimi kusamono,' there have not been any biographies found for these individuals.

As a result of excavations, roof tiles quite similar to those used for the reconstruction of Horyuji-Temple (existent architecture) and more aged ones have been found. Pits used for the pillars piled directly in the ground and trenches, which were considered to be the remains of the original structure, were also identified. It is believed that at the time of the foundation was back in the late Asuka period and the mid seventh century.


On the third day of the New Year of the 6th year of the Teiji era (1367), the temple burst into flames.

In 1645, struck by a typhoon, all buildings except for the three-storied pagoda were destroyed.

In 1731, Myoken-do Hall was rebuilt.

In 1760, the three-storied pagoda was restored.

In 1761, Kondo (main hall), Kodo (lecture hall), and Nandaimon gate (great south gate) were rebuilt.

In 1903, the three-storied pagoda was dismantled and thoroughly restored.

In July 21, 1944, the three-storied pagoda was hit by lightning and burnt down.

The lightning rod was removed and contributed to the Pacific War effort as metal.

In 1950, archaeological study began.

In 1975, the three-storied pagoda was rebuilt.

Complex of the temple

In 1950, Mosaku ISHIDA (1894-1977), who was a specialist in Buddhist archaeology, conducted the excavation and research in the complex of Horin-ji Temple. He discovered that Horin-ji Temple originally had a Horyu-ji style layout with Kondo in the east and the pagoda in the west, and its dimensions were two thirds of that of Horyu-ji Temple.

Kondo (main hall)

Kodo (lecture hall including repository)

Three-storied pagoda: in 1944, after it was burnt by lightning, a novelist Aya KODA and her colleagues called for donations to reconstruct the pagoda, and it was rebuilt by a master carpenter Tsunekazu NISHIOKA in 1975. The burnt pagoda was counted among Ikaruga Santo (three pagodas in Ikaruga) along with the pagodas of neighboring Horyu-ji and Hokki-ji Temples, and it was highly valued as the structure that was supposed to be the architecture of the late seventh century.

Myokendo (hall dedicated to Myoken Bosatsu)

Kishibojindo (hall dedicated to Kishibojin [guardian deity of children])

Jizodo (hall dedicated to Jizo Bosatsu)

Shoro (a bell tower)

Important Cultural Properties

Wooden seated statue of Yakushi Nyorai (the Healing Buddha): it is the principal image of the former Kondo (main hall) and currently enshrined in the present Kodo which is also used as a repository. It was created in the late Asuka period and is valuable as one of the few life-sized wooden sculptures. At a glance, its narrow face, costume and pedestal are similar to those of the principal image of Horyu-ji Temple's Kondo, the bronze statue of Shaka Nyorai. However, some of its elements indicate that it was created at a slightly later time; for example the eyes that are not simply almond-shaped but are depicted with complex lines.

Wooden standing statue of Kokuzo Bosatsu (Akasagarbha Bodhisattva): created in the late Asuka period. Although it is called 'Kokuzo Bosatsu' at present, it is believed that the name was given by the people at a later time when they believed that Prince Shotoku was the incarnation of Kokuzo Bosatsu, and the statue's original name is unknown.

Wooden standing statue of eleven-faced Kannon Bosatsu: the main image of Kondo with the seated height of 3.5 m. It is made in the Heian period like the following Buddha statues.

Wooden standing statue of Miroku Bosatsu (Maitreya) (designated as an Important Cultural Property by the name of 'Sho-Kannon Ryuzo [Wooden standing statue of Holy Kannon])

Wooden standing statue of Jizo Bosatsu

Wooden standing statue of Kisshoten

Ryubin no joku (a mat dyed in five different colors; red, purple, green, and blue): the mat was believed to have been used by Empress Suiko.

Toshinso nouchi doko (a copper container for relic placed in a central base stone of the pagoda)

Tahotomon kei (a stone chime patterned with a multi-treasure pagoda)

Fragment of Shibi (ornamental tile set in pair on both end of the ridgepole): typical Shibi tile of the mid Asuka period.

Cultural Properties designated by Nara Prefecture

Wooden seated statue of Shaka Nyorai (enshrined in the three-storied pagoda, not open to the public).

Doshakujoto (cast copper head of a walking stick used as an article for ascetic training)

Other cultural properties

Standing statue of Myoken Bosatsu (the temple's hidden Buddhist statue, not open to the public)

Standing statue of Bishamonten (one of the Four Heavenly Kings) on a rice bale

Wooden standing statue of Yoryu Kannon (Kannon holding a willow branch to eradicate illness)

Statue of two-year-old Prince Shotoku

Statues of Shitenno (Four Heavenly Kings) (enshrined in the three-storied pagoda, not open to the public)

Painting of Shaka Triad and eighteen Arhats, 3 sets (deposited in the Nara National Museum)

Jodo (Pure Land) Mandala, 1 set (deposited in the Nara National Museum)


Myoken Gomakito (ritual of consecrated fire dedicated to Myoken Bosatsu) (15th of every month)

Star Festival (February 3rd)

Myoken eshiki (Myoken Festival) (April 15th)

Autumn Special Exhibition (November 1 - November 7)

Neighborhood Information

Hokki-ji Temple

Horyu-ji Temple

Chugu-ji Temple


1570 Mii, Ikaruga-cho, Ikoma-gun, Nara Prefecture, 636-0101


15- minute walk from Yamato Koizumi Station, Kansai Main Line of West Japan Railway Company.

[Original Japanese]