Yakushiji Temple, Nara

Begun in 680, during the reign of the Emperor Temmu, Yakushiji Temple - together with Kofukuji - is the principal temple of the Hosso sect.
During the construction of the temple, which lasted until 698, Temmu died and was succeeded by his wife in 687. After the transfer of the capital to Nara, in 718, the temple was moved to its present site by Asuka. It was damaged on several occasions, most severely during the Civil War of 1528. Of the original buildings of the temple, which is one of the "Seven Great Temples of Nara", there survives only the East Pagoda; all the other buildings date from Kamakura period or later. The Kondo (Main Hall; restored 1600; rebuilt on the original foundations 1976) contains the famous Yakushi Trinity - an 8ft/ 2.6m high figure of Yakushi-nyorai (Lord of the Eastern Paradise) flanked by Nikko-bosatsu and Gakko-bosatsu. The statue, originally gilded, was blackened in a fire in 1528, and only the haloes are still gilded. The large bronze base of the central figure shows Chinese and Indian influences. All three statues date from 697, as does another Yakushi Trinity in the Kodo (Lecture Hall), beyond the Main Hall.
Obliquely opposite stands the three-story East Pagoda (124ft/ 37.9m) which is believed to have been built in 698. The smaller intermediate roofs give it the appearance of having six stories. It is topped by a metal pinnacle (sorin). The pagoda is the only surviving example of Buddhist architecture of the Hakuho period.
Behind the pagoda is the Toindo (East Hall, 1285), which contains a 6ft/1.9m high bronze figure of Sho-Kannon (or Kudara-Kannon) of about 600, a gift from the King of Paeckche (Korea). On the other side of the pagoda is the Bussokudo, with a stone bearing a footprint of Buddha (Bussoku-seki).
To the right of the Main Hall is the belltower, with a Korean bell. The Hozoden (Treasury), contains two fine paintings of Kichijo-ten, goddess of beauty, and a Chinese priest.

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