Hokke-ji was built by Empress Kōmyō in 745, originally as a nunnery temple on the grounds where her father Fujiwara no Fuhito's mansion stood. According to records kept by the temple, the initial construction went on until around 782. It once had a large complex with several halls, gates, and two pagodas.
Hokke-ji was heavily damaged in the fierce Siege of Nara in 1180. The complex was restored in the 12th and 13th centuries, but was again affected by civil conflicts during the Sengoku period.
The bell tower
The current main hall, bell tower and the south gate are reconstructions of the 16th century, sponsored by Toyotomi Hideyori and his mother, Lady Yodo.
The temple's main worship statue is the wooden 11-faced Kannon, a National Treasure. The temple houses an ancient bath building, originally built by Empress Kōmyō, which she opened to the public.