While the city increasingly encroaches on the cultural sights of Nara, venerable Hokki-ji remains a fascinating temple far removed from the modern world. One of the Seven Great Temples of Nara, Hokki-ji is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site with a three-story pagoda dating back to 706 AD that is the oldest of its kind.
You can reach Hokki-ji by bus or on foot, with the latter a good hike.
Hokki-ji can be easily accessed by buses that leave regularly from JR Nara Station or JR Oji stations, and get off at the Hokkiji-guchi bus stop. You can walk there is about 40 minutes from JR Horyuji Station.
Among the natural attractions are small ponds, trees and the cosmos flowers that grow in the spring.
As the buildings are constructed from wood using traditional techniques, the contructions feel almost a part of the natural surroundings. The way that these building blend into the nature around them is one of the reasons this temple is so popular.
Fans of traditional architecture will want enjoy the main attraction of the temple, its 3-storied pagoda. While it lacks the scale of some of the larger pagoda in the area, this 24-meter tall piece of art is distinguished by being the oldest of its kind in Japan, dating back to the 8th century.
Similarly the grounds of the even have an architectural style named after them, Hokki-ji style, which describes the way the temple's main hall and its pagoda are perfectly aligned on an east-west axis with the main hall in the west and the pagoda in the east.