If you enjoy travel that takes you back in time and plops you in the middle of another era, the Horyu-ji is a must-see. This is the oldest major sight in Japan, the place where Japanese art and history began. Among the Horyu-ji’s attractions are the three oldest wood buildings in the world, the oldest oil paintings in the world, and many of the oldest and finest works of Japanese sculpture. And fortunately, the Horyu-ji isn’t just a dry academic exercise; it’s a fascinating place filled with strikingly beautiful art and architecture.
Warning: The Horyu-ji complex is vast, larger than you probably expect. It includes two monasteries, a sizable museum, and a nunnery. We allotted a half day to the Horyu-ji (we scheduled the Horyu-ji in the morning, the Toshodai-ji and Yakushi-ji in the afternoon). A half-day wasn’t enough, at least for us; we felt rushed. We’d like to go back and spend most of a day there.
For our visit to the Horyu-ji we were able to obtain the services of a volunteer guide from the Nara Guide Club (http://web1.kcn.jp/nara-guide-club/). Given how large and dense with meaning the temple complex is, this made a huge difference. Our guide was Seiichi Ozawa. He was excellent, and you might ask for him by name.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.