Todaiji

The Daibutsu is the highlight feature of this fascinating ancient Nara temple
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Todaiji was completed in the year 752 and continues to be a popular place of religious importance to this day. The essential sights include the buildings that were rebuilt after being destroyed in fires caused by wars, the Daibutsu (the great Buddha), the masterpieces of the geniuses Unkei and Kaikei, and the statues of the guardian deities.
Business Hours

April~October 7:30am-5:30pm November~March 8:00am-5:00pm
Price
Adult: 600 YEN
Children: 300 YEN
Address
Todai-ji, 406-1 Zoshicho, Nara-shi, Nara
Phone
(0742) 22-5511

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About

Todaiji is a provincial temple established by the state to implore the gods for peace and to prevent accidents and disasters

Todaiji is a cultural property in Nara that is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. It is home to countless works of art and structures that are designated National Treasures, and is full of objects of extremely significant cultural value. Here, you will experience the dynamic atmosphere of a history spanning the ages in such objects as the main temple building, which houses Japan’s largest temple, and Daibutsu (the great Buddha statue).

The history of Todaiji starts in the year 728, when the emperor at that time (Emperor Shoumu) built a family temple (Kinshoji, or Konjuji) for his son (the Imperial Prince) who died before reaching his first birthday. After that, it became a provincial temple to implore the gods for national peace and to prevent accidents and disasters. Further developments led to Todaiji being established as the leading provincial temple in the country.

Daibutsu, which was completed in the year 752, is also known as Rushanabutsu, which is an alias of Shaka Nyorai, the Buddha who comprehended universal truth. His name means the Buddha who Illuminates the Universe, or the Glorious Buddha. With universal wisdom in his left hand, and displaying mercy with his right hand, it is said that the great Buddha statue is praying for people to be bound by kindness, and for deeper connections to be built (from the “History of Todaiji” section on the Todaiji website). As a location of learning for various sects, Todaiji also had a role as an open study center.

In addition to damage from natural disasters, Todaiji was twice destroyed by fire during wars. Repairs were carried out every time and a lot of hard work was put in to preserving the beautiful appearance. From 1998 to the present day, it has been a registered UNESCO World Heritage site. People find that the sight of the sides of Nandaimon (a National Treasure) curving elegantly toward the sky is overwhelmingly beautiful, while Daibutsuden imparts a weighty and powerful feeling that is both dignified and magnificent. Todaiji has so many highlights, including the countless National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties.

The huge wooden images of guardian deities are not to be missed

At a height of 8.4 meters, the huge wooden images of guardian deities (National Treasures) flanking Nandaimon on both sides are not to be missed. Records show that these figures were made by the genius Buddhist image sculptors Unkei and Kaikei and their 13 disciples in just 69 days during the Kamakura period in the year 1208. These vivid and powerful statues stand magnificently, captured in a moment with their clothes fluttering in the wind. They have an incredible realism so that even their blood vessels can be seen. The image of the powerful Rikishi is a masterpiece of art from the middle of the Kamakura period.

The spacious Todaiji also features cafes and shops, so you can take a break to relax while sightseeing.

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Reviews

2 years ago
Impressive!
The true size of this temple cannot be done justice in pictures. The large buddhas inside leave you in awe. The surrounding garden area is very impressive. I really recommend visiting during sakura season if you can.
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3 years ago
A stunning temple with so much interesting history
Todaji Temple is the second largest wooden structure on the planet. It was built in the Nara period at the instruction of Emperor Shomu. Some interesting facts about the temple. Emperor Shomu issued a law in Japan which stated that the people should become directly involved with the creation of new Buddhist temples throughout the country. Thanks to the law, 2,600,000 people were involved in the building of the Great Buddha Hall, and the statue inside. Another crazy fact, the Great Buddha Hall is 1/3 smaller than the original, having burnt down in 1180 AD, and then again in 1567 AD. That’s what you get when you build it entirely out of wood. I think that every temple I have been to so far in Kyoto has been burnt down and rebuilt. Inside the hall is the statue of the Vairocana Buddha. It is also known as the, “Buddha that shines throughout the world like a sun.” This is the world’s largest bronze image of the Buddha. Towering up at 14.98 meters. The construction of this Buddha became close to bankrupting the Japanese economy at the time; consuming all of the available bronze in the country.
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