Yakushiji – Nara
While shinto is the ancient religion of Japan, the relative newcomer of Buddhism is no spring chicken. One of the first buddhist temples to arrive in Japan is the venerable Yakushiji in today’s Nara prefecture, not far from Kyoto. It is said to date back to 680 A.D., although the original temple itself has been destroyed in a couple of fires, many old parts of the vast temple and associated buildings remain. When I arrived the main temple building and one of the two pagodas were being renovated and since I am allergic to taking photos of scaffolding, there were very few views remaining for me, hence the few photos of one of the most important buddhist temples in the world. Yakushiji is devoted to the “Buddha of Medicine”, hence the name (薬師寺). The main medicine pagoda is undergoing renovations that will last until 2018, so we will have to be patient for a few years before we can see the entire temple site again! The temple itself is in Nishinokyo, a small town that is jam packed with temple and historic structures, it even manages to make Kyoto and Kamakura look secular in comparison! Well recommended for a half day or even one day tour.