#71 Todaiji

Todaiji (literally meaning Eastern Great Temple) is a Buddhist Temple in Nara. It is known for its magnificent main hall, which is the biggest wooden building in the world. It houses a giant bronze statue of the Buddha, which also happens to be the biggest of it’s kind in the world. Todaiji is the main attraction of Nara, and it’s beauty and rich history has earned it’s name on the World Heritage Site list.

It has stood as the headquarters of the Kegon school of Buddhism for centuries. During the years Nara was the capital of Japan, Todaiji acted as a place of administration and ordination. But when the Buddhist powers shifted to other schools and the capital moved away, Todaiji lost much of it’s influence. Furthermore, the original structures have been lost in ancient fires and earthquakes and has gone under several major reconstructions. Still, although 30% smaller than the original, the current construction has managed to stand for over three centuries.

There were once two 100m pagodas on either side of the main hall (said to be some of the tallest structures in the world during that time) but since their collapse they have never been rebuilt and only the metal tips of them (called sorin) remain today.

Today, tourists can enter for just 500 yen through the outer gate (though it’s possible to snap some distant pictures from outside) from which you walk past the beautiful garden towards the main hall.

Inside, you will be able to see the Daibutsu (Big Buddha statue) as well as a collection of other statues and models. Being a very famous tourist spot, it will most likely be quite crowded, especially on days that there are festivals in Nara or during public holidays.

My recommendation is to go near closing time, so that there are fewer people to get in the way of taking pictures! But more importantly, there is a high chance of little/no queuing time to crawl through the famous ‘Buddha’s Nostril’ – which is a small hole through one of the supporting pillars the size of the Buddha statue’s nostril, that one is supposed to squeeze through as a wish for long life.

This was my attempt to fit through it (it’s a tight squeeze but it’s possible for even some smaller adult men to fit through).

After this experience, I realized that I really really need to go on a diet.

… so that’s how it works.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: #66 Nara « 101 Things in Japan

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