Hokke-ji was built by Empress Kōmyō in 745, originally as a nunnery temple on the grounds where previously her father Fujiwara no Fuhito's mansion stood. According to records kept by the temple, the initial construction went on until around 782. The temple once had a large complex with several halls and gates, and two pagoda's.
Hokke-ji was no exception to be heavily damaged in the fierce Siege of Nara, in 1180. In spite of reconstructions in the 12 to 13th century, the complex was again hit by civil war fights during Sengoku period.
The current main hall, bell tower and the south gate are reconstructions of 16th century, sponsored by Toyotomi Hideyori and his mother, Lady Yodo.
The temple's main worship statue is the wooden eleven-faced Kannon, a National Treasure. The temple also houses an ancient bath building, originally built by Empress Kōmyō, which she opened to the public.
- For an explanation of terms concerning Japanese Buddhism, Japanese Buddhist art, and Japanese Buddhist temple architecture, see the Glossary of Japanese Buddhism.
- List of National Treasures of Japan (paintings)
- List of National Treasures of Japan (sculptures)