The “sacred jewel” decoration on the roof of Reimeiden establishes this building as a worship hall. The present building was completed in 1890. There is a complete altar erected inside with the Medicine Buddha (Yakushi Nyorai) as the principle image.
The original statue of the Medicine Buddha that was enshrined within Reimeiden was stored out of public view until it was analyzed in the 1980s to verify its age. In 1986 the statue was discovered to be very old recreation of an even older statue. It is believed that the original was destroyed in 1103, and the statue that remains at the temple to this day was completed over the span of one month during the same year, making the current statue over 900 years old. In 1990 the statue was declared a National Treasure of Japan, it holds the record as the smallest National Treasure at only 21.9cm tall including the halo and pedestal.
I mentioned Kon-do in an earlier post about hajitomi (the distinctive lattice shutters on Kon-do, Shinden, and Mie-do), but today I will be offering more background on the main hall of the temple.
Originally built in 1613, Kon-do served as a hall for state ceremonies (shishinden 紫宸殿) at the imperial palace. In the 17th century Kon-do was given to Ninna-ji during the reconstruction of the temple. Kon-do was taken apart at the imperial palace and reconstructed on the temple grounds during the Kan’ei Era. The temple’s principle image of Buddha, the Amida Triad (Amida Buddha and two attendant deities) made by Unsetsu was enshrined within Kon-do in 1644, the same year construction was completed. There were relatively few changes made to the building during its reconstruction; the shingle roof was replaced with tiles and an altar was constructed inside, but other aristocratic architectural elements such as the latticed shutters (hajitomi) remain. Kon-do is 12.6m (41.3ft) across and 9m (29.5ft) deep with a hip-gable roof. As the oldest building of its style still in existence today, Kon-do has been designated a national treasure of Japan.