Yakushi-ji Temple is located in Nishinokyo in Nara City, Nara Prefecture, and one of two head temples of the Hossou religious sect. The principal image of Buddha is Yakushinyorai. Yakushi-ji Temple is the first temple of the Yakushi Pilgrimage of 49 Temples in Western Japan. The temple is also one of the Seven Great Temples of Nara. It was built by the Emperor Tenmu in 680.
Tou-tou or the East Pagoda, towering inside the temple complex, is 33.6m in height. The pagoda is believed to have been renovated in 730 to make it a good counterpart to the West Pagoda. This was done when the capital was relocated to Heijyou-kyo and the whole temple was moved to the capital. The East Pagoda has been designated as a National Treasure. The most notable feature of the East Pagoda is that, although it has three stories, its three additional lean-to roofs called mokoshi, make it look as if it has six stories. On the upper part of the tower, there is an openwork ornament called Suien (the Water Flame). There 24 heavenly beings were carved, some of which are playing flutes or planting flower seeds and some offering prayers. Suien is a charm to protect the pagoda from fire.
The East Pagoda of Yakushi-ji Temple is the only structure that has survived intact for a very long period of time, since the original foundation of the temple.
Yukinodera, or formally named Ryuoji Temple and locally called Nodera, at the foot of Mt. Yukinoyama (308 m) in Ryuo Town in Shiga Prefecture is a temple of the Tendai sect. The principal object of worship is Yakushi Nyorai. It was founded as Yukinodera Temple by Priest Gyoki in the middle of Nara period (710-794). In the later periods, however, the temple buildings were destroyed by fire many times and it was renamed Ryuoji Temple when restored in the Heian period (794-1192).
With the legend of a beautiful woman, who was actually a snake, the bell at the temple is well-known to local people since old days. The statues of Juni Shinso, the twelve heavenly generals, surrounding the principal object of worship are collectively designated as a national Important Cultural Property.
A lot of people visit this temple in hope of recovery from asthma on August 15 on the old calendar, when Hechima-kaji (Gourd Ritual) is performed.
Sairinji Temple is a Shingon sect temple located in Furuichi, Habikino City, Osaka Pref. The principal image is the standing statue of Yakushi Nyorai. According to the temple record, it originates in Kogenji Temple established by the Kawachi no Fumi clan, the descendents of a Confucian scholar Wang In of Baekje.
The excavated tiles and other items indicate that the temple was established at some time during the Asuka period (the late 6th C. to the early 8th C.). The foundation stone of a pagoda placed in the garden of the temple is nearly 2 m tall and over 27 tons in weight. It is the largest foundation stone of a pagoda identified with the Asuka period. The formal seven buildings had been completed by 679 and it is confirmed that those buildings had existed until 743. Most of the buildings and the pagoda were destroyed by the battles in the Warring States period (1493-1573) and Haibutsu Kishaku (the anti-Buddhism movement) in the Meiji period (1868-1912).
As one of the Kawachi Asuka Shichifukujin (Seven Gods of Good Fortune) temples, Sairinji Temple worships the deity Ebisu, who wears the Kazaori Eboshi (a tall hat) and the Kariginu (hunting garment) with holding a fishing rod and a red sea bream. Sairinji is a temple with a long history since the ancient times.
Mt. Hirugatake with an altitude of 1673 m is on the border of Sagamihara City and Yamakita-cho in Ashigara-Kami-gun in Kanagawa Prefecture. It is the highest peak not only in the Tanzawa Mountains but also in Kanagawa Prefecture. The mountain is a part of Tanzawa-Oyama Quasi-National Park.
In the old times, the statues of Yakushi Nyorai, Birushana-butsu (Rushana Buddha) and Hakkai-san Okami (the god of Mt. Hakkai) were placed at the top of this mountain, which was called “Yakushi-dake” or “Biru-ga-take.” The name “Hiru-ga-take” is said to be the corrupted form of “Biru-ga-take (meaning “the mountain of Rushana Buddha).” There is another story, however, that as there are a lot of leeches (“hiru” in Japanese), it was named “Hiru-ga-take.”
It takes a lot of time and strength from Okura, the starting point for a climb, but once you reach the summit, you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of Mt. Fuji, the South Alps, Mt. Yatsugatake and Oku-Chichibu mountains.
Shinkakuji Temple located in Sanda-machi, Hachioji City, Tokyo is a temple of the Chizan school of the Shingon sect. The main object of worship is Fudo Myoo. The temple is the 71st fudasho-temple of the Tama Shin-Shikoku 88 Holy Sites. The temple was founded in 1411. The temple treasure of the sitting statue of Yakushi Nyorai is designated as a Cultural Property of the city. The bell and bell tower are said to have been dedicated by Hachioji Sennin Doshin (junior officials) in 1660.
Shinkakuji Temple is famous for azalea and “Kawazu Gassen (the Frog Concert).” In the precinct is a pond called Shinji-ike in the shape of the Chinese character for “heart,” around which grow a lot of azalea and they are in full bloom in the middle of June. From the middle to the end of March, a lot of toads move to this pond for laying eggs. Though the toads decreased in number today, there used to be tens of thousands of toads got together here, which was called “Frog Concert” by the local people.
Yakuoin Yukiji Temple located in Takao-machi, Hachioji City, Tokyo is one of the three Daihonzan (head) temples of the Chizan school of the Shingon sect in the Kanto region. The main objects of worship are Yakushi Nyorai and Izuna Gongen. The temple is the 5th fudasho-temple of the Kanto 91 Pilgrimage to Yakushi Nyorai, the 8th of the Kanto 36 Sites Sacred to Fudo Myoo and the 68th of the Tama 88 Holy Sites. As many as 2,500 ancient documents are preserved at this temple.
It is said that the temple was founded in 744 by the monk Gyoki under the order of Emperor Shomu. As the statue of Yakushi Nyorai was placed at the foundation, the temple has been called Yakuoin. Later, a priest from Mt. Daigo in Kyoto founded a mountain practice ashram to worship Izuna Gongen, the deity who is believed to be residing in Mt. Iizuna in Nagano Prefecture. In the Edo period, an organization of mountain practitioners named “Takao-kou” was formed. Since then the temple has been the center of Takao Shugendo practice up to the present time.
Mutsu Kokubunji in Kinoshita, Wakabayashi-ku, Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a temple of the Shingon sect. The principal image of worship is Yakushi Nyorai. It was founded as one of the Kokubunji temples that were built all over the country during the Nara period (710-794) and it is the northernmost Kokubunji Temple in the country. In 1189, the temple buildings were destroyed by a battle fire and some of the buildings including the Yakushido Hall, the Niomon Gate and the bell tower were restored in 1607 by Date Masamune.
The Yakushido Hall is the oldest wooden building existing in Sendai City and nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property. Together with Osaki Shrine in the city, it has typical characteristics of the architectural style in the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568-1598). It is one-story building in Irimoya-zukuri style made of plain wood. Inside the hall is the house-shaped Zushi (a miniature Buddhist shrine), where the principal image, Yakushi Nyorai, is enshrined. As a secret Buddha, the statue is not open to the public.
Yakutousan Myosenji in Akiu Town, Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a temple of the Shingon sect, enshrining the Yakushi Triad as its principal object. It is said that Jikaku Daishi En’nin (794-864) selected this site as the susceptible place to the power of Yakushi Nyorai and founded this temple to guard Akiu Hot Spring. Since then, the temple is widely known as the temple to guard this hot spring town.
Akiu Hot Spring boasts a history of 1,500 years and has been called “Natori no Miyu (Honorable Hot Water of Natori),” as one of Japan’s three Honorable Hot Springs selected by the Imperial family.
Keeping the tradition since the founder of the sect, Kobo Daishi Kukai, “Kaji Kito,” the use of prayers for the healing of people’s ailments, is still practiced at this temple. It is said that the principal image of worship, the statue of Yakushi Nyorai, and the main attendants, Nikko and Gakko Bosatsu, and Juni Shinsho (twelve heavenly generals) protecting the triad are carved during the Heian period (794-1192) by a high-ranked priest at Mt. Hiei.
Akiu Onsen Child-Raising Yakushi Festival is held in the precinct on May 5 every year. Next to the temple is Akiu Onsen Communal Bathhouse, where local people enjoy soaking in a hot spring.