If you visit Toshodai-ji, which you definitely should, it makes sense to take a brief walk S along the picturesque National Road to Yakushiji Temple as well. I much preferred Toshodai, but you might prefer this one. If you bring children, they probably would. I would rate it 4 stars to Toshodai's 5, but I definitely am making this one 5 stars through December 5th.
Yakushiji is, like Toshodai, a historic temple of great antiquity. Unlike Toshodai, however, the actual buildings of Yakushiji-ji are much newer, due to lightning strike, wars, and the usual suspects. Don't get me wrong: many of the buildings are about 400 years old, they're big; they're colorfully painted in the chinese 5 primary colors: black, white, red, green, gold. There are some beautiful, beautiful statues, and great cultural artifacts. If you could some transport the entire complex to Denver, Danzig, Dijon or Darwin, it would immediately by one of the top attractions. But in Kyoto/Nara, it's a tough. Nothing wrong with Fra Lippo Lippi, but if you're in the Uffizi, walking out of a roomful of Botticellis, into a room with Fra Lippos, you can't help comparing the padre's work to the Birth of Venus. Same deal here.
So why am I giving it a rating of Excellent down the line, due to expire down to Very Good midnight on December 5th? Here's why.
The National Road makes a 90 degree left turn (east) just before the ticket booth for Yakushiji. The primary temple buildings are all to south of the road. But your 800 yen ticket has two stubs. The first one gets you. The basic tour of the temple complex. The second stub you use across the road, where there are several more buildings. One is a circular shrine in the middle of a square coutyard framed by another building. This is Genosanzoin.
Nice, but nothing too exciting in and of itself. However, from now through December 5th, the Nippn Satsuki Bonsai Association is holding a bonsai exhibition. I've seen bonsai; interesting stuff; like origami. But this bonsai is absolutely stunning. Bonsai Botticellis. I will post a few pics of the temple buildings and a few of the bomsai. Get there December 6th, and you still get the temple.
Note: there are scenic bicycle / walking paths on both sides of the canal running N-S to the east of both Toshodaiji and Yakushiji. Quite pleasant if you have some time.