Horyu-ji is a Buddhist temple that was once one of the powerful Seven Great Temples, in Ikaruga, Nara Prefecture, Japan. Its full name is Horyu Gakumonji, or Learning Temple of the Flourishing Law, the complex serving as both a seminary and monastery.
The temple was originally commissioned by Prince Shotoku; at the time it was called Ikaruga-dera, a name that is still sometimes used. This first temple is believed to have been completed by 607. Horyu-ji was dedicated to Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of healing and in honor of the prince's father. Excavations done in 1939 confirmed that Prince Shotoku's palace, the Ikaruga-no-miya, occupied the eastern part of the current temple complex, where the Tō-in sits today.
The temple's pagoda is widely acknowledged to be one of the oldest wooden buildings existing in the world, underscoring Horyu-ji's place as one of the most celebrated temples in Japan. In 1993, Horyu-ji was inscribed together with Hokki-ji as a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name Buddhist Monuments in the Horyu-ji Area.
The Japanese government lists several of its structures, sculptures and artifacts as National Treasures. A 2001 study of its shinbashira, the central wooden column almost suspended inside the Tō, concluded the building to be a century older than previously thought.