SpotTodaiji Temple

Todaiji Temple is known for its Great Buddha. The temple was built by order of Emperor Shomu in 743AD and the Great Buddha was completed almost a decade later in 752AD. The Nandai-mon Gate is the largest main gate at any of Japan's Buddhist temples; quite fitting for the Daibutsu-den hosts of the Great Buddha. Two Deva King statues which are recognized as national treasures stand either side of the gate and in a recent period of repair were proven to be the work of Unkei and Kaikei - famous sculptors in the medieval period.

The Daibutsu-den Kondo, or main hall, is the largest wooden building in the world. The current building however, is a 1709 reconstruction of the original two thirds of the original size. That said, even the current building took more than 20 years to complete, in the process using up 26,000 trees. The hall measures 57m east to west, 50m north to south and stands 48m in height.

The Great Buddha inside the kondo is 15m in height and weighs 380 tons. The total number of workers involved in the construction of the Great Buddha is believed to have been approximately 2.6 million - fully half of the nations 8th century population making it a truly nationwide effort indeed. Todaiji Temple, Chu-mon Gate, Kondo Hall and Kodo Hall stand in a straight line with the Great Buddha sandwiched between the 100m high seven story pagodas on its east and west. The statue was damaged several times due to conflict but was reconstructed each time. A symbolic pillar is also present with a hole equal in size to that of the entrance to the Great Buddha's nostril (30cm high by 37cm wide and 120cm in length). Both children and adults who are deemed slim enough wait in line to pass through.

The Sangatsu-do is the oldest building at Todaiji Temple and contains a number of splendid statues of the Buddha. Tamukeyama Hachimangu stands to the front of Sangatsu-do and the stone steps beside Sangatsu-do lead up to the Nigatsu-do, in which Omizutori and Otaimatsu (Shuni-e meetings) are held in March each year. The landscape visible from the Nigatsu-do balcony is breathtaking and takes in the city of Nara as well as Mount Ikoma in the distance. To venture to the rear of the building will bring into sight an Urasando; a pretty stone paved rear approach, surrounded by earthen walls.

Shoso-in is the treasure hall of Todaiji and home to the belongings of Emperor Shomu that include pieces from along the Silk Road and historically important and extremely old documents. It was constructed in the seven decade long Nara period (710-784AD) in the Azekura-zukuri-style of high floors made of triangular shaped logs. An exhibition of items not usually displayed to the public is held under the title of Shoso-in Exhibition at the Nara National Museum each autumn.

Todaiji Temple





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