Asukadera monastery/nunnery, (in) Asuka, Nara Prefecture, JP

Raw data

Asukadera, in the Asuka valley to the south of modern Nara City, was built in the late 6th century, or early 7th century, by the chief of the Soga clan, Soga no Umako, who was descended from Korean immigrants. According to the Nihon shoki (720), there were 46 temples in the Asuka area with 816 monks and 669 nuns. However, Asukadera (known by several other names, especially Gangôji, after it was moved to Nara City) was distinguished in the texts as one of four great temples, closely affiliated with the imperial institution.

Its founding is described in Gangôji engi (Historical Account of the Gangôji, compiled 747). The Tô roban mei states that Korean priests and craftsmen from Paekche (Kudara) were invited to build a monastery and a nunnery on the site. Six and nine Korean priests and envoys are named in the Tô roban mei and Jôroku kômei respectively. These texts downplay the role of the Soga clan, and emphasize the connection between Asukadera and the ruling Empress Suiko. Emperor Kôtoku (r.645-654) assigned ten teachers to spread Buddhism, and five of them were of the Sanron school and lived at Asukadera. One was Ekan (Hyegwan) from the Korean kingdom of Koryo (Koguryo).

The current layout of buildings does not reflect the original, which burned down in a fire of 1196. Archaeological investigations have revealed that the original structure consisted of a pagoda and three Golden (Main) Halls: East, West, and Middle.
-McCallum (2009: 28-30, 80)
Src: JPN
Input by: Lizbeth H. Piel, Jan 22, 2010

Final data (and their sources)

Last updated: 23 Dec 2012

Lat/Long coordinates' accuracy:
The monastery in question is assumed to be situated actually no farther than 200 m from the point defined by the coordinates below.

Location of Asukadera monastery/nunnery, JP.

General location of the Asukadera monastery/nunnery, JP.
Lat 34.4787 Long 135.8205
Mapping & images: Falling Rain Genomics (, 2009.

Google Map link:,%20JP)&ll=34.4787,135.8205&spn=05.0,05.0&t=k&hl=en

Final data - explanatory notes

1. Monastery's name

  • Asukadera (飛鳥寺). Alternative English spelling: Asuka-dera

2. Monastery's modern country & province

  • Japan: Nara Prefecture

3. Monastery's alternative/historical names

  • Gangôji, Hôkôji, Asukadera (明日香寺)
  • Note - not to be confused with Gangôji monastery, (in) Nara, Nara Prefecture, JP

4. Monastery's lat/long coordinates

  • Approx., Lat 34.4787 Long 135.8205 - visual identification of the temple in maps, - tmciolek, 24 Jan 2010.

5. Other known nearby Buddhist monasteries

6. Modern name of the known nearest city, town, or village

  • Takaichi-gun (district), Asuka-mura (village).

7. The settlement's alternative/historical names

  • Asuka, Fujiwara

8. The settlement's coordinates

9. Monastery's major Buddhist tradition

  • Mahayana

10. Monastery's Buddhist sub-tradition

  • Sanron, Shingon

11. Date-early

  • 597: Completion of at least the pagoda, or part of the temple. - McCallum (2009: 34)
  • MBM chrono-tag 0567-99c - tmciolek 23 Dec 2012
  • 0567-99c 0600-32c 0633-66c 0667-99c 0700-32c 0733-66c 0767-99c 0800-32c 0833-66c 0867-99c 0900-32c 0933-66c 0967-99c 1000-32c 1033-66c 1067-99c 1100-32c 1133-66c 1167-99c 1200=> dated-el

12. Date-intermediate

  • [missing data]

13. Date-late

  • 1196: A fire destroyed the original buildings. The monastery was rebuilt, but its fortunes declined thereafter. - Oowaki (1989: 22)
  • MBM chrono-tag 1200=> - tmciolek 23 Dec 2012

14. Details of contacts with other monasteries

  • The monastery was affiliated with a nunnery, Toyuradera. The Shoka Nihongi (797) and other 8th c. sources list Asukadera as one of four great temples connected with the imperial family in the 7th century. The others are Kudara Ôdera, Kawaradera, and Yakushiji. - McCallum (2009: 2, 35)

15. Type of evidence regarding the monastery

  • Archaeological, documents.

16. Additional notes

17. Corrections & addenda to this page were kindly provided by

  • [missing data]

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