Yakushiji Temple is a temple with a 1,300-year history that was established in 680 by Emperor Tenmu to pray for the recovery of his consort (who would later become Empress Jito) from an illness.
However, all of the buildings except the East Pagoda were burned down by many natural and man-made disasters that occurred throughout the temple’s long history. As a result, there is nothing left of the temple’s magnificent, original complex (garan), which was built in the “Dragon Palace-style” of architecture (ryugu-zukuri).
For Yakushiji Temple, the reconstruction of the lost temple complex (garan) was a long-cherished wish.
In 1968, the temple’s head priest at the time, Takada Koin, said that “we may prosper materially but perish spiritually” and set forth to reconstruct the temple complex that brought spirituality with it precisely because we were in a period of rapid economic growth. With this aim in mind, he started raising funds to reconstruct the Hakuho Garan (the Hakuho-period temple complex) by soliciting donations through O-shakyo.
His goal was to reconstruct the Main Hall by soliciting donations through one million scrolls of O-shakyo. Takada Koin walked across Japan and called on people to “rediscover your beautiful spirits” through the practice of O-shakyo. His goal of producing one million scrolls was achieved in 1976. And in that same year, the Main Hall celebrated its completion.
In 2018, we celebrated the 50th anniversary since the start of the Hakuho Garan’s reconstruction through the solicitation of donations from O-shakyo.
The reconstruction of the principal halls and pagodas of the Hakuho Garan, including the West Pagoda, Inner Gate, Cloister, Great Lecture Hall and Dining Hall, is almost finished. This is certainly an embodiment of the beautiful spirits of the Japanese people.
The Yakushi Triad is a set of principal images that have remained since the time of the temple’s founding and they are renowned as the world’s most beautiful Buddhist statues.
The gentle smiles of these statues evoke a security that make people feel as if they are in the arms of the Buddha.
Please visit Yakushiji Temple, a temple for the mind where you can soothe and hone your mental and spiritual being.