Yakushi-ji Temple (Sanju-no-to,location,history)

Yakushi-ji Temple, Sanju-no-to

The information about Yakushi-ji Temple is presented here. Yakushi-ji Temple was added to the list of World Heritage Sites in 1998 as a “Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara”. To-to (East Pagoda) is a 34.1 meter tall Sanju-no-to (three-story pagoda), and together with Sai-to (West Pagoda), it is the symbol and landmark of Yakushi-ji Temple. It is the fourth tallest pagoda in Japan after Gojyu-no-to (Five-story Pagoda) of To-ji Temple, Gojyu-no-to (Five-story Pagoda) of Kofuku-ji Temple, and Gojyu-no-to (Five-story Pagoda) of Daigo-ji Temple. Although To-to is a three-story pagoda, each tier has a small roof called a mokoshi, giving it the appearance of a six-story pagoda.

【Yakushi-ji Temple Location Map & Directions】

Address: 457 Nshinokyo-cho, Nara City, Nara Prefecture, Japan
Access (How to get there): Yakushiji bus stop (about 2 minutes on foot), Kintetsu Nishinokyo Station (about 5 minutes on foot)

【Opening Hours & Closed (confirmation required)】

Opening Hours: 8:30-17:00 (last admission at 16:30)
Closed: open year round

【Entrance Fees & Tickets (confirmation required)】

Individual (When Genjo Sanzo-in Garan is open): Adults 1,100 yen, High School and Junior High Students 700 yen, Elementary school student 300 yen
Individual (When Genjo Sanzo-in Garan is closed): Adults 800 yen, High School and Junior High Students 500 yen, Elementary school student 200 yen

【Yakushi-ji Temple History】

According to the oldest official history of Japan, “Nihon-Shoki (completed in 720 )”, Yakushi-ji Temple (薬師寺) originated in 680, when the 40th Emperor Tenmu requested the construction of a temple to pray for the healing of the illness of Empress Uno no Sara (the 41st Emperor Jito). However, the 40th Emperor Tenmu died in 686 without waiting for Yakushi-ji Temple to be completed. In 686, Uno no Sara ascended the throne as the 41st Emperor Jito, and the construction of the Fujiwara-kyo began in 690. In 694, the capital was moved from Asuka Kiyomihara-no-miya to Fujiwara-kyu, and Yakushi-ji Temple was built in Fujiwara-kyo U-kyo Hachijo-Sanbo (Kashihara City, Nara Prefecture). According to the imperial history “Shoku-Nihon-gi (compiled in the early Heian period)”, the main statue of Yakushi Nyorai was completed in 697, and by the following year, 698, Yakushi-ji Temple (Moto-Yakushi-ji Temple) was almost finished and monks lived there. In 710, the capital was moved from Fujiwara-kyo to Heijo-kyo, and in 718, Yakushi-ji Temple was moved to its present location, Heijokyo Ukyo Rokujo-Nibo. Incidentally, it is said that Moto-Yakushi-ji Temple existed until the middle of the Heian period (794-1185). The cornerstones of Kondo and To-to (East Pagoda) and the central foundation of Sai-to (West Pagoda) are designated as special historical sites as Moto-Yakushi-ji Temple Ruins. During the Yoro period (717-724), Kibi-naishino, the second daughter of the 43rd Emperor Genmei, built Toindo for Emperor Genmei. In 722, a statue of Miroku was created for the 40th Emperor Tenmu, and a statue of Shaka was created for the 41st Emperor Jito. It is said that To-to (East Pagoda) was built in 730. During the Nara period (710-794), Yakushi-ji Temple was one of the four major temples in Nara, and its main buildings, including Kondo, To-to (East Pagoda), Sai-to (West Pagoda), and Kodo (lecture hall), each tier has a small roof called a mokoshi, and it was also called “Ryugu-zukuri”. In 973, a fire broke out in Jikido and destroyed many buildings of Yakushi-ji Temple, including Kodo, Kyozo, Shoro, Cyu-mon Gate, Nandai-mon Gate, and Toindo. In 989, a typhoon destroyed the upper level of Kondo. Jikido was rebuilt in 1005, and Nandai-mon Gate was rebuilt in 1013. In 1095, the Buddhist relics were dug out from from the ruins of Moto-Yakushi-ji Temple. Toindo was rebuilt in 1285. In 1361, Kondo, To-to (East Pagoda) and Sai-to (West Pagoda) were damaged by an earthquake in 1361, and Cyu-mon Gate and Saiin were destroyed. In 1445, Kondo and Nandai-mon Gate collapsed due to a typhoon, and a temporary Kondo was built. In 1528, many temple buildings, including Kondo, Kodo, Cyu-mon Gate and Sai-to (West Pagoda), were destroyed by Tsutsui Junko’s military fire. To-to (East Pagoda), the only one remaining from the time of Yakushi-ji’s founding, survived the fire. Kondo was rebuilt in 1600. Yasumigaoka Hachimangu Shrine was rebuilt in 1603. Kodo was rebuilt in 1852, but was demolished in 1995. In 1944, an earthquake caused Kondo, Kodo, and To-to (East Pagoda) to lean, Todai-mon Gate and Hokudai-mon Gates to collapse, and Jizoin sub-temple to be severely damaged. Kondo was rebuilt in 1976, Sai-to (West Pagoda) was rebuilt in 1981, Genjo Sanzo-in Garan was built in 1991, and Dai-kodo was rebuilt in 2003.
*reference・・・Yakushi-ji Temple website

【Yakushi-ji Temple Highlights (May be undisclosed)】

★To-to (East Pagoda, 東塔, National Treasure) is said to have been built in 730. There has been some debate as to whether To-to was built in Fujiwara-kyo and moved there, or whether it was newly built in Heijo-kyo, where the capital was moved in 710, but in 2016 it was learned that the Shinbashira pillar was cut down in 719, raising the possibility that it was built in Heijo-kyo. To-to houses the four statues of Buddha carved in the Edo period (1603-1867) on the four sides of the altar, and the statue of Shitenno carved in the Heian period (794-1192) on the four corners.
★Toindo (Toin Hall, 東院堂, National Treasure) was rebuilt in 1285 and is said to have been changed from a southern to a western orientation in 1733. Toindo houses the statue of Shokannon (National Treasure). Toindo was originally called Tozen-in.
★Yasumigaoka Hachimangu Shrine (休ヶ岡八幡宮, Important Cultural Property) was rebuilt in 1603 by Hideyori Toyotomi, son of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. By the way, Yasumigaoka Hachimangu Shrine is said to have originated in the Kanpyo period (889-898) when Eisho invited Hachiman-shin from Usa Hachimangu Shrine in Oita. Yasumigaoka Hachimangu Shrine is the guardian shrine of Yakushi-ji Temple, and enshrines Hachiman-shin, Empress Jingu, and Nakatsuhime-no-Mikoto.
薬師寺見どころ (Yakushi-ji Temple Highlights)

【Events (confirmation required)】

★Hanae-shiki (花会式) is held every year from March 25th to March 31st. In Hanae-shiki, ten kinds of artificial flowers (plum, peach, cherry, wild cherry, camellia, peony, wisteria, lily, towaka, and chrysanthemum) are offered to Yakushi Nyorai, and Yakushi Keka-hoyo is held. At Onioi-shi, Bishamonten, who is empowered by Yakushi Nyorai, drives away five demons (black, blue, red, white, and yellow) that are running rampant.
★Genjo Sanzo-e Taisai (玄奘三蔵会大祭) is held every year on May 5th. Genjo Sanzo-e Taisai commemorates Genjo Sanzo, the founder of the Hosso sect of Buddhism. At Genjo Sanzo-e Taisai, Gigaku, which is said to be Japan’s first non-native music and dance, is dedicated, and Manto Kuyo-e where lanterns are lit is held.
★Tenmu-ki hoyo (天武忌法要) and Manto-e (万燈会) are held every year on October 8th. At Tenmu-ki hoyo and Manto-e, about 1,000 lanterns are lit and picture statues of Emperor Temmu, Emperor Jito, and Prince Otsu are enshrined in front of the main statue of Miroku Sanzon to commemorate Emperor Temmu.

【Flower Calendar (cherry blossoms, etc )】

★The best time to see lotuses (蓮) is from late June to mid-August. About 250 pots of lotuses, including the Oga lotus, are placed around Shoro (bell tower) and between the Dai-kodo and Jikido, blooming in white, pale pink, and other colors.
★The best time to see plum blossoms (梅) is from mid-February to mid-March. About 100 plum trees of 10 varieties, such as red and white plums, are planted around the temple office of Genjo Sanzo-in Garan, the approach to Kita-mon Gate reception of Hakuho Garan, and Higashi-Sobo, and it is said that the scenery of plum blossoms, Genjo Sanzo-in Garan, and Higashi-Sobo is beautiful.
(The best time to see the plants depends on the climate of the year.)

【Telephone (Please refrain from making phone calls.)】

Tel: +81-742-33-6001

【Recommended Walking Route】

The recommended walking route from Yakushi-ji Temple is to go Toshodai-ji Temple. Toshodai-ji Temple, like Yakushi-ji Temple, is a World Heritage Site, and you can visit both World Heritage Sites in about 10 minutes. Since there are not many sights around Yakushi-ji except for Toshodai-ji, it may be a good idea to go to the next sightseeing spot.

【Remarks (access, parking, disclaimer, etc)】
If you plan to visit Yakushi-ji Temple, be sure to check the latest information.

スポンサーリンク(Sponsor Link)


  1. 新薬師寺おたいまつ


  2. 聖武天皇祭


スポンサーリンク(Sponsor Link)