A number of records refer to the origin of the temple, such as the Nihongi and Fusō-ryakuki. The original buildings of what was then called Hōkō-ji were constructed in 588, shortly after the introduction of Buddhism from Baekje, one of the three principal states on the Korean peninsula, according to various sources including Buddhism in Japan.
Following the transfer of the capital from Asuka to Heijō-kyō (now Nara city), the buildings of Asuka-dera were also removed from the original site in Asuka to Nara in 718 CE, and developed into a huge temple under the name of Gangō-ji. The original site of the Hōkō-ji was also maintained as a temple which survives into modern times.
The main object of worship at Asuka-dera is the bronze Great Buddha, which said to be made by Kuratsukuri no Tori in the early seventh century. The statue is a designated an Important Cultural Property.
- For an explanation of terms concerning Japanese Buddhism, Japanese Buddhist art, and Japanese Buddhist temple architecture, see the Glossary of Japanese Buddhism.
- Martin, John et al. (1993). Nara: A Cultural Guide to Japan's Ancient Capital, p. 121;
- Aston, William. (2005). Nihongi, p. 101.
- Aston, William G. (2005). Nihongi: Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to A.D. 697. Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Company. ISBN 0-8048-3674-4
- Brown, Delmer M. and Ichirō Ishida, eds. (1979). [ Jien, c. 1220], Gukanshō (The Future and the Past, a translation and study of the Gukanshō, an interpretative history of Japan written in 1219). Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-03460-0
- Martin, John H. and Phyllis G. Martin. (1993). Nara: A Cultural Guide to Japan's Ancient Capital. Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing. 10-ISBN 0-8048-1914-9; 13-ISBN 978-0-8048-1914-5
- Shimura, Izuru. (1998). Kōjien, 5th edition. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten. 10-ISBN 4-00-080111-2; 13-ISBN 978-4-00-080111-9 (cloth)
- Ponsonby-Fane, Richard Arthur Brabazon. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan. Kyoto: Ponsonby Memorial Society. OCLC 194887
- Titsingh, Isaac, ed. (1834). [Siyun-sai Rin-siyo/Hayashi Gahō, 1652], Nipon o daï itsi ran; ou, Annales des empereurs du Japon. Paris: Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland.
- Varley, H. Paul , ed. (1980). [ Kitabatake Chikafusa, 1359], Jinnō Shōtōki ("A Chronicle of Gods and Sovereigns: Jinnō Shōtōki of Kitabatake Chikafusa" translated by H. Paul Varley). New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-04940-4
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