Throughout Japan's history, architecture has played an essential religious and cultural role for its people. Here are some examples of the types of architecture found in the rural and urban centers across the country.

Prince Shotoku (574-622 C.E.) was the first Japanese regent to establish Buddhism as the state religion and was a major figure in Japan's visual culture as a patron of religious art. After receiving much opposition from the supporters of Japan's native religion, Shintoism, Shotoku introduced Buddhist teachings and culture into the country. In an effort to demonstrate to the people his profound acceptance of the new religion, Shotoku oversaw the construction of numerous Buddhist temples and thematic sculpture. What we see in many of these temples is a transition from the provincial, rural style that defined traditional Japanese architecture into a more elegant and refined style which borrows from both Chinese Buddhist and Indian Buddhist traditions. One of the earliest temples constructed during Shotoku's time is the Horyu-ji temple from the late seventh century. The Shitennoji temple from the late-sixth century is one similarly one of the oldest standing structures in Japan.

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Shitennoji Temple in Osaka, Japan (Modern Reconstruction)
Founded by Prince Shotoku in 593 C.E., Shitennoji is dedicated to the Shitenno, or the four heavenly kings. Although the current structure is a modern reconstruction, the original building was built at the end of lengthy war that took place in…

During the reign of Emperor Shomu (701-756 C.E), Japan endured a period of great cultural output brought about by state patronage. Throughout his life, Shomu devoted large sums of money for the creation of elaborate Buddhist temples and artifacts…

Horyu-ji is a Buddhist temple complex in Japan and contains some of the oldest wooden structures in the world. Located in Ikaruga, Horyu-ji was first built around 607 C.E. but most of the existing buildings come from around 670 C.E. The individual…
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