Yakushiji temple was built by Emperor Tenmu at the end of the seventh century as an offering for the
recovery of his wife. It is one of Japan’s oldest temples and has a strictly symmetrical layout, with the main
hall standing in the centre flanked by two pagodas. The main hall was rebuilt in the 1970s after being
destroyed by fire, and houses a Yakushi trinity, a masterpiece of Japanese Buddhist art. The Japanese
architect Toyo Ito was tasked with redesigning the interior of the temple’s Jikido dining hall and work was
carried out between October 2013 and May 2017. Toyo Ito chose to install ceiling panels inspired by the
illustration of the Pure Land of Amida in the middle of the room, representing clouds moving in the sky. The
bright gold-dip anodised panels were laser-cut then fitted together seamlessly. Lighting designer Hiroyasu
Shoji installed Laser Blade recessed luminaires above these panels, with light cones emerging from the
openings between the clouds. They are camouflaged perfectly and their minimalist dimensions give the
impression of sunlight filtering through the clouds
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