THE Yakushiji temple, located in Nara, Japan, is the headquarters of the Buddhist Hosso sect and one of the most important temples in the country. Originally founded in 680 CE at Fujiwara-kyo but then relocated to Nara in 718 CE, its famous three-storey East Pagoda is original. Most of the other structures at the complex, although they follow traditional designs, were reconstructed in the 20th century CE following a destructive fire in the 16th century CE. The complex boasts many fine examples of early Buddhist art, notably the bronze Yakushi Triad which dates to 690-718 CE. Yakushiji is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Yakushiji temple was founded in 680 CE in Fujiwara-kyo, then the capital of Japan. The idea came from Emperor Tenmu (r. 672-686 CE) who, after his wife fell seriously ill with an eye affliction, wanted a temple built in honour of Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of healing (of both the body and soul). In a strange twist of fate, Tenmu died before his wife, but the latter, now reigning as Empress Jito (r. 686-697 CE), continued to support the temple project and construction was completed in 698 CE.