Asuka-dera, the first temple in Japan was moved to Nara
And its name was changed to Gangoji
About 2 km to the east on the JR Nara Station, the temple is situated in Naramachi that retains the atmosphere of long ago though it is lined with souvenir shops for tourists. Asuka-dera, the oldest temple of Japan that was built to the south of Nara City around 600 was moved to the city following the capital relocation to Heijo-kyo and changed its name to Gangoji.
Today we see Gokurakudo and a Zen room in its wide precinct, which are used for monks' activities. They are registered as World Heritage site as part of Historic Monuments of the Ancient Nara. One of the key features of the Gokurakudo and the Zen room that are National Treasures is their beautiful roofs. Japan's oldest tile roofing called "Gyokibuki" is constructed by partially overwrapping roof tiles of folding-fan shape, which creates varied and quaint expressions.
Hozo situated south of Gokurakudo houses a miniature five-story pagoda. This is a precious reminder of the architectural style of the Tenpyo Period. The 5-meter tall small structure is designated as a National Treasure not as an artifact but as a building. Gangoji is also famous as a temple of bush clover. In fall, flowering bush clovers make the temple a gorgeous place attracting many photographers.
Address: 11 Chuin-cho, Nara City, Nara
Directions: (Train) A 20-minute walk from Nara Station on the JR Kansai Honsen (one hour from Shin Osaka). (Car) 15 minutes from Horai Interchange on the Daini Hanna Toll Road.