Hōryū-ji (法隆寺, Temple of the Flourishing Dharma) is a Buddhist temple that was once one of the powerful Seven Great Temples, in Ikaruga, Nara Prefecture, Japan. Its full name is Hōryū Gakumonji (法隆学問寺), or Learning Temple of the Flourishing Law, the complex serving as both a seminary and monastery.
The temple was founded by Prince Shōtoku in 607, but according to the Nihon Shoki, in 670 several buildings were burnt down due to lightning strikes. However, reconstructed at least 1,300 years ago, the Kondō (main hall) is widely recognized as the world’s oldest wooden building.
A fire that broke out during the dismantling and repair of Kondo on January 26, 1949 destroyed a mural of the Asuka period, a national treasure, and shocked the Japanese. Based on this accident, the day when the fire broke out is now fire prevention day for cultural properties.
In 1993, Horyu-ji Temple, along with Hokki-ji, was registered as Japan’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name of Buddhist Monuments in the Hōryū-ji Area.
A tree ring survey conducted in 2001 revealed that the shinbashira of the five-story pagoda were cut down in 594, before it burned down in 670.