Friday, April 17, 2009

Yakushi-ji Temple

Yakushiji is one of the seven great temples of Nara. It is part of the Hosso sect, founded by Xuanzang (JPN: Genjo) in China around 630, and established in Japan by the middle of the 7th century.

Yakushiji temple was planned by Emperor Temmu in 680, but was actually constructed by his Empress (Jito) after the Emperor's death. Ironically, the Emperor had commissioned the temple to pray for the recovery of the Empress from a serious illness. Yakushiji was originally constructed in Fujiwara-kyo south of Nara (present day Kashihara city), and was finally completed in 698. The temple was moved to its present location in 718, after the capital was moved to the north of Nara in 710.

Today the Yakushiji temple compound consists of several buildings including the Kondo (main hall), the Kodo (lecture hall), the East and West Pagodas, and the Toindo (East Hall). Most of the original buildings of the temple were destroyed over the years by fires, warfare or natural disasters. However, the East Pagoda has survived, and is the only architecture from the 7th century Hakuoh period in Japan. The other building that is not a recent restoration is the Toindo. This was initially rebuilt in 1285, and underwent extensive restoration in 1733. These two buildings are visually distinct from the others as they have not been painted in the red and white style. The other buildings in the complex are recent restorations built during the past 30 years.

East Pagoda, the only architecture from the 7th century Hakuoh period in Japan.


Tornadoes28 said...

Truly amazing that the East Hall has be around since the 7th century. Too bad that so many great temples and shrines have been destroyed du to disasters, especially WW II.

That is why I love Nikko so much because the temples and shrines of Nikko are so old.

Tony Mariani said...

When you realize what's been lost to fire, earthquakes and war, it is easy to understand why the Japanese are a bit paranoid about preserving their past.

Tony Mariani said...

Tornadoes28, I checked out the pictures you took at Nikko, the march of the 1,000 Samurai. Nice pictures!