in the twentieth century, a long and fierce debate took place among Japanese
scholars over whether the existing Hôryûji was actually the
temple built by Prince Shôtoku in 606. Until then, no one had ever
doubted the tradition of personal founding by the prince, despite a historical
record of a great fire destroying the temple in the year 670. This entry
was dismissed as an error since there was no record at all of a later rebuilding.
But in 1939 archaeological excavations produced new evidence, shown here
in yellow, which makes us fairly certain today that the temple was in fact
burned and rebuilt in the late seventh century, decades after the prince’s
death. The original Hôryûji was oriented considerably off the
orthodox Chinese-style north-south axis of the present temple, probably
to make in conform to the plan of the prince’s personal palace to the right.
The new Hôryûji, the one we know today, was built on a new
site nearby with a totally different plan.