The original Yakushiji temple was built in Fujiwara-kyo, which was the capital of Japan during the Asuka period, commissioned by Emperor Tenmu in 680 to pray for the recovery from illness for his wife. The act of building temples in devotion to Buddhist figures were a very common practice during this time for Japanese nobility. After the completion of the temple in 698, it was then disassembled and moved to Heijō-kyō which was the new capital at the time. Most buildings of the temple complex were destroyed in a fire in the year 973, and the main hall in 1528. Restoration work has never completely stopped at Yakushiji Temple, but most of the temple had been restored around the 1970-80s. Yakushiji Temple is not only one of the seven great temples of Nanto located, but also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.