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Old Wood in Japan

By Linda Tancs

The world’s oldest surviving wooden structures are found on the grounds of Horyuji Temple in Nara, Japan, the only Buddhist monastery remaining from the Asuka Period. It was built in A.D. 607 during the reign of Prince Shotoku, who helped spread Buddhism. The complex contains dozens of historical and cultural properties, many of them designated as National Treasures or Important Cultural Properties. Not surprisingly, Horyuji is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the first in the country to be so designated along with Himeji Castle. Highlights include a five-story pagoda and the octagonal Yumedono, or Hall of Dreams.

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