Visiting the World Heritage temples
The temple is listed on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites and you can find many beautiful statues and works of art from the Tenpyo, Nara, Heian, and Kamakura periods there.
The Nishinokyo area where the Bhaisajyaguru temple is located at can be found in the western part of Nara and is famous for its many historical heritage sites.
The first thing you see upon entering the temple grounds is Toutou, “the east tower”, which is considered to be the symbol of the temple. It first appears to be a six-storied pagoda, but in reality it has only three stories. It’s because each pent roof of the pagoda has a small roof called mokoshi. The overlapping roofs give the building a curious, rhythmical beauty, and because of it the tower is sometimes called the “Frozen Music”. The tower is currently mostly covered because it is undergoing repairs. You will be able to see it again in the spring of 2019.
National Treasure time! Let’s visit the three famous statues of the temple
The three statues of Yakushi are enshrined in the inner temple of this place.
It was burned down in the past by the fires of war, and since the temporary hall has remained as-is for more than 400 years, it’s said that reconstruction of the inner temple was a long-cherished wish of the Yakushiji Temple priests.
This inner hall took about 10 years starting from 1967, when Reverent Takada Kouin gathered 1 million copies of sutras from around the country and raised the funds. It was revived as a fully fledged inner temple using the Hakuho period style.
The three statues of Yakushi enshrined in the inner temple have a solemn atmosphere that is breathtaking to see.
One of the three Yakushi is enshrined in the form of a statue of Buddha.
Nikko Bosatsu (Suryaprabha Bodhisattva) and Gekko Bosatsu (Candraprabha Bodhisattva) are seen on each side of Yakushi Nyorai (Bhaisajyaguru). (Facing the Bosatsu, right is Nikko Bosatsu and left is Gekko Bosatsu)
Although it has been nearly 1400 years since they were sculpted, their fresh beauty still remains. They are masterpieces among the many numbers of Buddha statues sculpted in the same period.
Trio of National Treasures! Here comes Yakushi Sanzon
Yakushi Nyorai (Bhaisajyaguru) is situated in the middle of three statues of Buddha.
Nyorai (Tathāgata) means one who has reached the truth; in short, one who has attained enlightenment.
Yakushi Nyorai is also named Iou Nyorai and is the Buddha of medicine.
Though this statue does not have one, there are many Yakushi Nyorai statues which have gallipots (small, usually ceramic vessels).
The Nikko Bosatsu and Bekko Bosatsu which sit on both sides of the Yakushi Nyorai are always in a pair and posed symmetrically towards Yakushi Nyorai.
Bosatsu indicates the condition that a person is becoming spiritually enlightened for the benefit of mankind.
Nikko Bosatsu is believed to clear the darkness of agony by shining like a sun, and Gekko Bosatsu is believed to clear evil desires with a benevolent heart shining like the light of the moon.