Approaching from Nishinokyo Station about 20 minutes from Kintetsu Nara Station, one is immediately struck by the scale of this temple complex, built in a Chinese style around 680. One of the most famous temples in Japan, its historical and architectural significance has earned it World Heritage status.
After choosing your ticket (there is an extra charge for the Genjo-sanzoin Garan across the road), you see two grand halls, two pagodas and covered cloisters, arranged in a grid. The Kondo or main hall is flanked by two gorgeous pagodas. The East Pagoda (currently under restoration until June, 2020) is the only surviving original 8th century structure. The main hall is comparable to a cathedral in size and impact, housing a Yakushi Nyorai (Buddha of healing) seated on a stand decorated with motifs from the Silk Road: grape vines from Greece, Persian lotus flowers, figures from India and a dragon, phoenix, tiger and tortoise, the Chinese gods said to rule over the four directions.
Originally built near Kashihara in 680 by Emperor Tenmu to pray for his wife's recovery from illness, the Emperor himself died before it was finished but his wife lived and succeeded him as Empress Jitou. When the capital was moved to Heijokyo, Yakushiji was also moved to its current location.
Beyond the main hall, the Toindo (East Hall) is worth seeing for its elegant Kannon figure, protected by warriors in dramatic poses. Across the road from the main temple area the Genjo-sanzoin Garan, holds the remains of the Chinese monk Genjo-sanzo. Fans of the 1970’s TV series Saiyuki (also known as Monkey), or the original novel by Wu Cheng'en, will be familiar with his travels along the Silk Road.
From Yakushiji Temple, it is just a few minutes walk to World Heritage Toshodaiji Temple, which has a very different atmosphere. Between the two temples there are several popular soba restaurants, making for a good half day outing.
KANSAI NARA Treasure Travel
A private day trip to Nara, taking in the highlights
Last update: 2016-11-15
- Venue Details & Access Info
457 Nishinokyocho, Nara
From Kintetsu Nishinokyo Station:
- 2 minutes on foot from the station.
Related Events Incense and Tea Ceremony for the Goddess Kichijoten
- 薬師寺 Yakushiji Temple
- address 奈良市西ノ京町457 457 Nishinokyocho, Nara
- Opening Time & Admissions
8:30 - 17:00 (last admission 16:30)
Open all year round
When Genjosanjoingaran is open to public:
Available Foreign Languages
No foreign language spoken (Japanese only)
Information in English
- Contact Details