According to Japanese architects it is believed that Horryu-Ji temple is the oldest wooden building in the entire world. It was built around 552-710 A.D by a certain monk who brought a number of carpenters and craftsmen to design and build it. However the original structure burnt down though there still some remains that act as evidence for its existence and use by archeologist together with architects to determine its age. The four wooden pillars were strong to support the massive weight of the roof that was built from clay instead of the traditional light roofing materials such as thatch and timber. The roof of the present day Horyu-Ji temple has been restyled to keep up with the current trends and also strengthen it due to the frequent earth shake ups and heavy winds.
The roof is multilayered with a roof after every floor of the five story building. The roof is also decorated with some of the most ancient artifacts and pictures and sculpture of legendary monk leader and teachers of law. The roof of the temple is too heavy as it is made of tiles as opposed to commonly used lighter materials such as iron sheets. In addition the roof is so massive and has large gutters this therefore requires very strong pillars and brackets for support. The roof on each floor curves outwards and diminishes so as to make it more elegant and standing out. An inaccessible balcony has been included in the design so as to enlarge the roof further.
The architecture records claims that Foguang temple is the third in terms of age of the preserved timber buildings in China to this date. It was designed and constructed between the years 386 and 550 by northern Qi Dynasty or Northern Wei Dynasty though it is not well known the exact date or the person who built it. It was restructured in the nineteenth century to come at par with the modern architectural designs. The roof of the temple was fitted perfectly to match with the hexagonal shape of the entire Pagoda. The roof is also fitted with decorative features such as a bobble of lotus petals placed all around it. The temple roof is held up by two funerary pillars placed within each hall to support the hexagonal shape.
The roof of the Foguang temple is also made up of tiles and painted with various artistic features and built in an emperor style. The main entrance of Horyu-Ji temple faces south and the main compound lay on the north-south axis to it. The four main halls of the temple which are Pagoda, the lecture hall, the Golden gate and great southern gate are symmetrical through a central axis. The corridor is colonnaded with a walled exterior on each side surrounding the temple complex. These corridors are further decorated in a Chinese style so that the wall is so perfect a view as one walks along.
Furthermore, the walls of the corridors are cloistered in Chinese plastering style with openings to allow for cooler and fresh air as the temple is still open to public due to the important artifacts contained in the temple. The corridors of the Horyu-Ji temples are of impressive height to the specification of the Chinese designs. The timber or the wooden material that has constructed the pillars is of entasis that are made in a similar manner to the Chinese column to give a good impression of importance and height. However the Pagoda and the Buddha hall were offset from the line of symmetry so that the viewer could see them at the same time. This changed the alignment of the corridors and made them instead of been in one straight line to branch in two ways (“World Heritage Sites in Japan”, 2016).
The Foguang temple has over a hundred halls, rooms and pavilions all with wooden doors and the corridor walls mostly painted at the bottom with the 500 AR hats of Ming dynasty of the Mingde reign. The temple is 8m high with two story with the ground flow been an empty space with corridors made of brick stones and wooden pillars. The arc door is decorated with lotuses on top with the top floors corridors mostly inscribed with educational materials about lotus style and the rest is decorated with false flamboyant arch doors. The other thing on the corners of the temple is the bottle of lotus petal flowers decorating the columns along the corridors. The corridors to the pagoda are carefully styled with a consistent and unique pattern than any other Buddhist stone curving (“Foguang Temple” n.pag). This style of curving of pagoda walls and corridors to the pagoda are some of the really ancient Chinese architecture but fit so well with the modern design.
Figiure 1: Foguang temple roof structure
Figure 2: Horryu-Ji temple
In conclusion it is not evident of any alteration that can be made in both temples unless it is a total restructuring. But one can alter the decorative design by changing the position of some furniture or artifacts. Therefore the architecture of both temples mostly has fixed walls doors and windows. This is as shown in the diagram above of the roof of both temples supported by very strong beams.
Foguang Temple. (2016). Chinaculture.org.
(2016). Mary Neighbor Parent: The Roof in Japanese Buddhist Architecture New York & Tokyo : Kajima Foundation, 1985. Print
World Heritage Sites in Japan. (2016). Jnto.go.jp.