- Todaiji (東大寺) meaning “Great Eastern Temple”, is a landmark of Nara and is situated in the northern part of Nara Park. It is one of Japan’s most historic of temples which was originally constructed in 752, during the Nara period, by Emperor Shomu to bring peace to the country. It was the head temple of all Buddhist temples in Japan and played an influential role in government affairs at that time. However, it was destroyed by fire, twice, in 1180 and in 1567. The present structure was constructed during the Edo period under the direction of monk Kokei.
The approach to Todaiji Temple is through the Nandaimon, the Great Southern Gate. This, large wooden gate, guarded by two fierce looking Kon-go-Rikishi guardian statutes representing the Nio Guardian Kings are designated as national treasures. The Todaiji Hall or the Main Hall (kondo), Daibutsuden is the largest wooden building in the world and was reconstructed in 1692, representing only two-thirds of the original temple hall’s size. The hall is home to 15m (50ft) high seated Buddha with two Bodhisattvas on each side.
Walking along with the crowd inside of the hall, there are some Buddhist statutes and models of old buildings. What caught my attention and many around me was a pillar with a hole in its base. I saw children and a few adults going through one end and coming through to the other. The hole is said to be the same size at the Daibutsu’s nostrils and that those who can go through this opening will receive enlightenment in their next life. It was interesting and fun to watch!
Daibutsuden Hall [600 Yen] – Opened all year round
Opening times: 07:30 – 17:30 (Apr – Oct)
08:00 – 17:00 (Nov – Mar)
Todaiji’s grounds are spacious and is also home to several other buildings such as the
- Todaiji Museum [600 Yen] – Opens from 09:30
** I did a combined ticket for Daibutsuden Hall and the Museum for 1000 Yen.
– Nigatsudo Hall – Stays open, free admission
– Hokkedo Hall [600 Yen] – same opening hours as Daibutsuden
– Kaidanin Temple [600 Yen] – same opening hours as Daibutsuden
As mentioned earlier, Todaiji is located in the north of Nara Park. It takes about 20 minutes to get here from Nara Kintetsu Station or 35 minutes from JR Nara Station.You can also take a bus, but I would recommend that you walk as there is another historic temple between Kintetsu Nara Station and Todaiji which is the Kofukuji Temple.