Kondō (Main Hall)
Asuka Period: mid 6th - beginning of 8th c.
The Main Hall is the sacred edifice in which are enshrined statues to which Hōryūji is dedicated. Within this stately building stands a bronze Asuka-period Shaka (Sakyamuni) triad, made by the famous sculptor Tori, in honor of Prince Shōtoku; to the east of the triad is a bronze statue of a seated figure of the Yakushi Nyorai from the same period, built in honor of Emperor Yōmei, Prince Shōtoku's father; and to the west is a bronze statue of the seated image of the Amida Nyorai (Amitābha), or the Pure Land Buddha (Kamakura Period: late 12th -early 14th c.), built in honor of Empress Anahobe no Hashihito, Prince Shotoku's mother, warding evil away from these statues is Japan's oldest set of the four heavenly guardians, or Shitennō (Hakuhō Period: late 7th - beginning of 8th c.). These camphor-wood statues stand quietly atop defeated evil spirits, unlike the vigorous warriors they came to be represented as in later centuries. Also housed within the Main Hall are the standing wooden images of Kichijōten (Srimahadevi), goddess of good fortune, and Bishamonten (Vaisravana), god of war, and national protector (both Heian Period: end of 8th late 12th c.).
Heavenly beings fly with phoenixes along the eaves of the three ceiling-mounted canopies in a style reminiscent of the "lands west of China"—ancient Central-Asian lands from where trade routes stretched across the Asian continent and to Japan. On the surrounding walls are world-famous murals. Long known as the best extant pictures of ancient depictions of Buddhist paradise, much of these murals were destroyed by fire in 1949. Today, fully reconstructed, they vividly recall the beauty of the day they were created.