OWL Magazine Korea

Kofuku-ji Temple in Nara Park

Kofuku-ji, located at the heart of Nara Park, is a Buddhist temple and a symbol of Nara. It is home to the second tallest pagoda in Japan, standing at five stories. With a history dating back to 1399, this temple originated from the aspirations of Fujiwara no Kamatari, who founded it to pray for the recovery of his wife, Kagami no Okimi, during the flourishing Fujiwara clan era in the Heian period.

Originally situated in Yamashiro Province’s Yamashina (present-day Kyoto City), the temple moved to its present location in the eastern part of the newly constructed capital, Heijo-kyo (modern-day Nara City), in 710. During the Heian period, Kofuku-ji prospered under the influence of the Fujiwara clan, gaining prominence as one of the four major temples of the Nara period, providing protection to the imperial family.

Despite the loss of many buildings due to wars and fires, Kofuku-ji still preserves around ten structures. It remains a place of historical significance for the Japanese, housing numerous national treasures and cultural properties, making it a UNESCO World Heritage site alongside other cultural assets in Nara, such as Kasuga Taisha Shrine.

“Originally in Kyoto, Now in Nara – Kofuku-ji’s History”

The original site was in Yamashina, Kyoto, but in 672, the temple moved to Fujiwara-kyo, Japan’s first planned capital. In 710, it relocated to its current position in the eastern part of the newly constructed capital, Heijo-kyo. Kofuku-ji flourished during the Fujiwara clan’s dominance. The temple not only served as a center of Buddhism but also wielded influence beyond the imperial court. While other temples, such as Todai-ji, declined after the capital moved to Heian-kyo, Kofuku-ji maintained its influence due to its connection with the Fujiwara clan. The temple underwent several destructions and reconstructions, and although two of the three golden halls, the southern gate, and the central gate remain unreconstructed today, Kofuku-ji continues to exert its cultural significance.

“Remaining Structures and Treasures”

Kofuku-ji is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site under the name “Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara,” encompassing not only Kofuku-ji but also Nara’s Kasuga Taisha Shrine and other sites. Some of the buildings and treasures of the temple include:


  • Eastern Golden Hall (Tokondo) (National Treasure): The only remaining one of the original three golden halls. Built in 726, it is considered a sacred space for marital harmony, featuring a five-story pagoda and a corridor. Inside, there are six National Treasure and Important Cultural Property Buddhist statues.
  • Five-story Pagoda (National Treasure): Reconstructed in 1426, this 50-meter-high pagoda is the second tallest of its kind in Kyoto Prefecture, only surpassed by Kyoto Tower. Initially constructed in 730, it has been rebuilt five times.
  • Three-story Pagoda (National Treasure): Reconstructed in 1143.
  • North Octagonal Hall (Hoku’en-do) (National Treasure)
  • South Octagonal Hall (Nan’en-do) (Important Cultural Property)


  • Dry Lacquer Standing Images of the Eighteen Arhats (National Treasure)
  • Dry Lacquer Standing Images of the Ten Great Disciples (National Treasure)
  • Copper Buddha Head (National Treasure)
  • Wooden Standing Images of the Wisdom Kings (Myo-o) (Important Cultural Property)

“Entrance Fees for Some Kofuku-ji Areas”

While enjoying the grounds of Kofuku-ji is free, there are entrance fees for specific buildings:

  • Grounds: Free
  • National Treasure Hall: ¥700 (Adults)
  • Eastern Golden Hall: ¥300 (Adults)
  • Combined ticket for National Treasure Hall and Eastern Golden Hall: ¥900 (Adults)
  • Central Golden Hall: ¥500

“Deer Near Kofuku-ji”

In the Nara Park area, encountering deer is common. Though not as plentiful near Kofuku-ji, occasionally, you may come across one or two. Initially fascinating, the novelty of seeing deer up close wore off as I discovered a location where they gathered in groups. Later, observing deer became less extraordinary, but it added a unique element to the overall experience.

Kofuku-ji, Nara Park

  • Address: 48 Noboriojicho, Nara, 630-8213, Japan
  • Phone: +81742227755
  • Website: Kofuku-ji Official Website
  • Operating Hours: 9:00 – 17:00