Nara's Yakushi-ji Temple: a Healing Temple
Yakushi-ji (薬師寺) is a Japanese Buddhist temple of the Hosso sect located in Nara. Yakushi-ji is the head temple of the Hosso sect in Japan. The temple is two things: one of the seven great temples of Nara and a UNESCO world heritage site.
Yakushi-ji is a few rides away by train and by bus from famous destinations in Nara such as Todai-ji Temple near Nara Park. As it is located in a calm area away from the Todai-ji area, it makes Yakushi-ji more of a secret spot to enjoy the atmosphere of Nara and traditional Japan away from big crowds of tourists who flock to Todai-ji or Nara Park.
Yakushi-ji is known as the temple for healing health conditions. In the main hall of Yakushi-ji, there is a statue of Yakushi Nyorai, which is the healing Buddha. The Yakushi Nyorai of Yakushi-ji is also a designated national treasure.
Open Hours: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM (last admission 4:30 pm)
Adult: ¥1000 (off season ¥800)
Children (Middle School/High school): ¥700 (off season ¥500)
Children (Junior School): ¥300 (off season ¥200)
Access: 2 min walk from Kintetsu Nisino-kyo Station.
Bus from JR Nara Station to Yakushi-ji in about 20 minutes.
Yakushi-ji was founded in 680 by Emperor Temmu (631-686) at Asuka (present day Kashihara). The temple was established for Empress Jito (645-703), who had a serious illness at the time and the temple was to pray for her. Empress Jito eventually recovered from her illness later on, which made the reputation of Yakushi-ji being a temple of healing health conditions.
The temple was moved in 718 from Kashihara to its location today in Nishino-kyo. This is due to the fact that the capital was moved to Nara in 710.
The Two Pagodas
Yakushi-ji is very well known for its two pagodas, the East Pagoda and West Pagoda. Yakushi-ji is said to be the first temple to have both the east and west pagodas.
The East Pagoda is from the Hakuho Period, which makes it a National Treasure. It is said to be the only surviving architecture of the Hakuho Period in Japan.
The west pagoda was burned down in the fire that destroyed Yakushi-ji in 1528. It was rebuilt in 1980.
In Yakushi-ji visitors can enjoy an experience of Sutra Copying. The Sutra Copying is available from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. The price range changes according to what type of Sutra Copying people want to do.
The Price Chart for Sutra Copying
There are few events thoughout the year at Yakushi-ji. Among those, the Flower Offering Ceremony is one of the most famous. The ceremony is during the period of March 23rd and March 25th to March 31st. The ceremony is for celebrating the arrival of spring, and the temple, especially the main hall with the statue of the healing Buddha, is filled with different types of flowers.
The most recent upcoming event will be the Tenmuki event on October 10, 2016.