A legend tells that the pagoda was originally built in the late sixth century by order of Crown Prince Shotoku Taishi. Although the early history of the pagoda is uncertain, it is believed to have been built before the capital city of Kyoto itself was constructed in 794. The pagoda has burned down and been reconstructed several times. The current construction dates from 1440. Using very few nails, the central wooden pillar that runs from the ground to the top is not fixed to the floors on each level and therefore is able to withstand the shock of earthquakes.