Shinyakushiji Temple

Description: 

People often misunderstand the name Shinyakushiji in Nara prefecture as the following temple of the great Yakushiji temple because Shin in Japanese means new. In fact, Shin of Shinyakushiji temple means miraculous, standing with Yakusji as the miraculous Yakushi Nyorai, the principal image of the medicine Buddha, then Shinyakushiji temple has no connection with Yakushiji or else the following temple of Yakushiji. The temple was built even earlier than the brother. The story tells that when the Emperor Shomu had an eye disease in about 747, his wife Empress Komyo built Shinyakushiji to pray for his recovery. That is why the Buddha of medicine and healing Yakushi Nyorai was enshrined at the temple.

shinyakushiji_temple_welcomekansai

Source: Shinyakushiji Temple

Initially, Empress Komyo constructed such a grandiose Kondo of 9 bays, flanked by two pagodas, one in the east and one in the west. Also being a temple of Kegon Buddhism, perhaps not so many people know that Shinyakushiji together with the great Todaiji also in Nara were two among the biggest temples even across Japan at that time. Documents recorded that huge buildings of Shinyakushiji at that time became the training space for about 1000 monks and there were even quarters for this large number of monks to live. Unfortunately, a lightning caused a serious fire then burnt the buildings down, it is said to be happen in the mid Heian period. Right after that, an other building called Hondo replaced the old Kondo, being the main hall of Shinyakushiji.

shinyakushiji_temple_welcomekansai

Source: Shinyakushiji Temple

Since the Kondo was detroyed, Hondo has become the oldest establishment of Shinyakushiji as well as appearing in the oldest wooden buildings of Japan. The calm building has white walls featuring a stained glass window in the east, under a large hip and gable roof in Irimoya style carried by huge pillars inside. Looking up at the open ceiling, you can see clearly beams and rafters in red color. There is a seated statue of Yakushi Nyorai in the center of Hondo. The statue of 191.5 centimeters seats on a large circular foundation, creating a large establishment occupying almost all the area of Hondo floor. The statue is an outstanding work of early Heian period wooden sculptures, strongly believed to be created at the end of the 8th century by cutting a single hinoki tree with the original color and material, no paint, no lacquer.

shinyakushiji_temple_welcomekansai

Source: Shinyakushiji Temple

The face of Yakushi Nyorai is highlighted under embossed curls by thick lips, black narrow eyebrows and a big nose. The right arm is lifted while his left arm puts on his leg, holding a medicine pot. The Yakushi statue is made of wood while the 12 guardians set up around are made of clay of different character and weapon. Born in the 8th century, all these statues are designated as National Treasures. Inside the precinct of Shinyakushiji, there are also two gates called the South and East gates, the Jizo hall enshrining a small image of Jizo deity as well as a belfry.

shinyakushiji_temple_welcomekansai

Source: Shinyakushiji Temple

Open time: 

From 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Last entry at 4:30 pm

Admission: 
- Adult: 600 yen
- High school and Junior high school student: 350 yen
- Primary school student and younger: 150 yen
How to access: 
-Take bus from JR Nara station or Kintetsu Nara station and get off at Takabatakecho stop or Wariishicho Stop and take a 10 minute walk.