406-1 Zoshicho, Nara, Japan
Tōdai-ji Nara Reviews
Great Statue of Buddha Mar 27, 2015
Todaiji (Great Eastern Temple) is one of Japan's most famous temples and a landmark of Nara. Located in Nara Park, in central Nara, Todaiji was constructed in 752 as the head temple of all provincial Buddhist temples of Japan.
Todaiji derives its name from its location east of Nara, which was the capital of Japan when it was built. Today, the temple serves as the Japanese headquarters of the Kegon school of Buddhism.
The main entrance to the temple is through the 13th-century Nandaimon (Great Southern Gate). It features two impressive guardian statues of the Nio (Benevolent Kings), carved in 1203 and each more than 8 meters tall.
Todajji's main temple building, the Daibutsuden (Great Buddha Hall), is said to be the largest wooden building in the world. This is especially impressive in light of the fact that the present reconstruction (from 1692) is only two thirds of the original temple's size.
The original complex also contained two 100-meter-high pagodas, probably the tallest buildings in the world at the time, but these were destroyed by earthquake.
Todaiji is famous for housing Japan's largest Buddha statue. It depicts the Buddha Vairocana and, like the one at Kamakura, is commonly known as the Daibutsu (Great Buddha). The Daibutsu is made of copper and bronze, weighs 250 tons and stands 30 meters tall. His intricate hairstyle is made of 966 bronze balls.
Also of interest in the Daibutsuden are the rear support pillars, which have holes through the bottom. Popular belief has it that if one is successful in squeezing through one of these "healing pillars," he or she is guaranteed a place in Heaven.
Outside the Daibutsuden at the bottom of the steps, don't miss the bronze Octagonal Lantern, one of the oldest treasures in Todaiji — it dates from the original 8th-century temple. The lantern's support post is inscribed with a Buddhist text on the merits of lighting lanterns.
There is a big pillar inside the hall, and it has a hole near the floor. They say the size of the hole is equivalent with the nose hole of the statue, and kids or small people can get through the hole. They also say, when you go through the hole, you could be healthy and happy in your future life. So many visitors try to do that.
Another interesting story I heard was that when they finished constructing the statue, the final job was to attach the eye ball to the head. But initially they didn’t know how to do that. So a small kid held the eyeball from inside the head and adjusted it using his whole body, but then his body was stuck inside the statue. So how did he get out from the body? He went through the nose hole of the statue and got out successfully. After that, when we praise smart kids, we say “You look like a boy who go from eye to nose!.” There are so many other places to see in Nara, I hope you can be touched by the ancient Japanese culture there.
Admission ¥500 adults, ¥300 children
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