Nara: Tōdai-ji (Temple)

Located in the vicinity of Nara Park in central Nara, Nara Prefecture in Japan, Tōdai-ji Temple or simply Tōdai-ji (東大寺, Eastern Great Temple) is the largest wooden structure in the world today.

Tōdai-ji Temple's history could be traced back to the year 728 during the reign of Emperor Shōmu. During that time Nara was still the capital of Japan. The temple eventually became the head temple of all provincial Buddhist temples of Japan. It is also the Japanese headquarters of the Kegon school of Buddhism.
The Nandaimon or Great Southern Gate
The temple is popularly known as the home of the largest statue of Buddha in Japan. It is know as the Great Buddha or the Nara Daibutsu. According to legends, millions of people (more than 2 million according to existing records) helped in the construction of the Great Buddha. Aside from that tons of bronze were also used in the project (probably draining the treasury of the country at that time). It was finally finished and dedicated in the year 752AD. The event was so special that it was attended by the emperor and his family, as well as hundreds of local monks and ambassadors from China, India and other distant places. These ambassadors brought gifts, many of which are still preserved today.

Check out the entrance fee
My wife posing in front of the giant temple
Look how big the temple is 
My wife with Ryu san
The temple, like many others, was also tested by time and Mother Nature. It was rebuilt several time after being damaged or destroyed by natural disasters. In 1180, Tōdai-ji Temple  was reconstructed under the supervision of Shunjōbo Chogen. The temple was then patterned in the style done in China at that time.
The Great Buddha
Check out the sheer size of that statue
Yup that's the size of the Great Buddha's hands
Tōdai-ji Temple was greatly damaged again in 1567 and was rebuilt by Tokugawa shogunate in 1692. The temple or Daibutsuden that stands today is actually two-thirds of the size of the original. The Great Buddha also underwent several recasts due to damages done by Mother Nature. The current statue dates back to 1692.

Things to see in the temple vicinity:
The octagonal lantern outside the temple -A National Treasure

A miniature model of the temple
The heads of Zochoten and Jikokuten

Different artifacts in the main temple
The hole in the pillar
Komokuten, one of the 2 guardians in the main temple
Bishamonten one of the 2 guardians in the main temple
The 8th century Lotus Petal found at the throne of the main Buddha

We visited Tōdai-ji Temple during our trip to Nara Prefecture on our 16th day of stay in Japan. Since our goal was just to see the deer roaming Nara park, our visit to the temple was actually a great bonus... And that great bonus actually has hidden extra bonuses. For example, we got the chance to see the largest bronze Buddha statue in Japan plus my daughter and I also got the chance to successfully crawl through the hole in one of the pillars of the temple (some calls it Lucky Hole). It is said that whomever crawls in and successfully goes through the hole would be lucky and would achieve true enlightenment on the next life. The hole is also said to be the same size of the Great Buddha's nostril. Talk about adventure!

Getting there:

From Kansai Airport, you can ride a limousine bus which will bring you to JR Nara Station. from there you could walk going to the park.
Road to Nara Prefecture
Another way to reach the park from the airport is by riding the JR Kansaikuko Line from Kansaikuko Station to Tennoji Station then transfer to the Yamatoji Line (Rapid Service) and get off at JR Nara Station.

You could also ride the Nankai Line (Rapito Service) from Kansaikuko Station to Namba Station then change to the Kintetsu Nara Line (Limited Service) and get off at Nara Station.

Overall rating


  1. Todai-ji is wonderful temple ... Omamori (japanese charms) of Todai-ji you can buy on ... I'love Japan! ... I hope one day to get back on Japan


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