A temple with an overwhelming presence for a World Heritage site
Yakushi-ji is one of the many temples to be found in the city of Nara in Nara Prefecture. In the prefecture, there are numerous famous temples and shrines all over such as Todai-ji, Kofuku-ji, Kasuga Taisha, Toshodai-ji, Horyu-ji and Gango-ji. Including these temples and shrines, Yakushi-ji was registered as a World Heritage site along with the other buildings under the collective name of Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara in 1998. It was a temple commissioned by the Emperor Tenmu in 680 to be built in prayer for his consort to recover from illness. The buildings within the temple have been arranged in a way that has been called the Yakushi-ji Temple Style; such buildings include the Daiko-do Hall, the West Pagoda, Kin-do Hall, To-do Hall, Toin-do Hall, the Chuumon Gate, and Yasuoka Hachiman-gu.
Many wonderful National Treasures
In Yakushi-ji, there are National Treasures and many Buddhist images enshrined that have been designated as Important Cultural Properties. First off, the seated figure of the Yakushi Nyorai preserved in Kin-do Hall is one such National Treasure. It is revered as a Buddha taking away suffering to protect people from mental and physical ailments. The image of Sho Kanzeon Bosatsu which has been regarded as one of the most beautiful in Japan is also considered to be a National Treasure that is stored in Toin-do Hall. Daiko-do Hall’s Bussokuseki (the Buddha’s footprint stone) and the Bussokusekika inscription are also enshrined as National Treasures as valuable sightseeing spots in the temple. The statue of the Sanjin (Three Gods) in Yasuoka Hachiman-gu is a very valuable National Treasure as the oldest wooden sculpture. As well, the painting of Kisshoten depicting one of the Buddhist guardian deities is a National Treasure which is Japan’s oldest color painting as an independent image painted onto linen. Annually from New Year’s Day to January 15th, the painting is shown publicly for a limited time. The East Pagoda is the only National Treasure building in the temple grounds that has existed unchanged since the Nara Era, but currently it is under renovation so tours aren’t possible there. However, the renovation is scheduled to be completed by the spring of 2019.