[YouTube] Todaiji Temple in Nara – Your Best Japan Guide
What is Todaiji?
Todaiji is a Buddhist temple located in Nara Park in the Nara prefecture. It was built by Emperor Shomu in the early 8th century.
Todaiji Temple is an excellent example of Tenpyo architecture at that time, and it houses a rich collection of masterpiece of Buddhist art.
In 1998, Todaiji Temple was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
What to See?
1. Nandaimon Gate
Visiting Todaiji Temple, you will first encounter the spectacular Nandaimon Gate. It is 25 meters high and is constructed of 18 pillars, each of which is made from an approximately 800-year-old tree.
Entering the Nandaimon gate, you will find 2 statues over 8 meters high giving you a glaring look. The one with the opened mouth is called Agyo statue. It represents the beginning of the universe. The other one, with the closed mouth, is Ungyo statue, which represents the end of the universe. Both are said to be guardian deities of Buddha, the founder of Buddhism.
2. Daibutsuden Hall and The Great Buddha
Daibutsuden Hall is located in the center of Todaiji temple. This is where the famous Great Buddha Statue can be found. The hall is 48 meters high, 57 meters wide, and 50 meters long. It is one of the largest wooden buildings in the world.
As you enter the Daibutsuden Hall, you finally get to see the principal attraction of Todaiji Temple, The Great Buddha. Its height is 15 meters, which is as tall as a 5-story building. The Great Buddha statue is officially called Ryushana-Butsuzo, which is one of the epithets of Buddha and means, “The brilliant saint who illuminates the world.”
3. Nigatsudo Hall
Nigatsudo Hall in Todaiji Temple is a place that most tourists aren’t aware of and is best to visit at dusk. It is a Buddhist temple located 400 meters east of Daibutsuden Hall. Every March, an event called Omizutori takes place here for 2 weeks, where you can see burning torches illuminate Nigatsudo Hall in bright vermilion.
Nigatsudo Hall is open 24 hours a day, with free admission, and it offers a magnificent view. From here, you can see a panoramic view of Nara city.
The early 8th century was a terrible period for Japan, with famine, a big earthquake, and smallpox. It is said that Emperor Shomu built The Great Buddha to bring an end to these misfortunes and bring stability to the country.
There are many famous buildings around Todaiji, such as Kofukuji Temple, Isuien Garden, the Nara National Museum, the Nara Prefectural Museum of Art. The area is only 1 hour away from Kyoto station, so it is highly recommended for a one-day trip.