Located in Nara Park, the Todai-ji Buddhist Temple (literally, the 'great eastern temple') is the largest wooden monument in the world. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it holds the Daibatsu, the largest statue of Buddha in Japan. By ordering its construction in 728, Emperor Shomyo wished to make Nara the Buddhist centre of the country and thus increase his power. Completed in 752, the main building, Daibutsuden, was the subject of many fires and was destroyed and rebuilt many times over the years. The current building dates from 1708 and is a tad smaller than the original one. Indeed, it currently measures 47m high, compared to the 70m it measured in the past. The temple is accessed via the Southern gate, Nandaimon. The Nio guardians at the entrance, in charge of protecting the Buddha and chasing away evil spirits, are a sign of the importance of the site. Inside the Daibutsen you will find a statue of Kokūzō, one of the 8 bodhisattvas of tantric Buddhism, and an imposing 14.8m high metal statue of Buddha. Todai-ji is still an important place of Buddhist worship and its community of monks hold rituals and ceremonies all year long.
By ordering the construction of the Todai-ji and the great statue of Buddha, Emperor Shomyo wished to make Nara the Buddhist centre of the country.© Fotosearch / GraphicObsession
Located at the entrance to the main building, the great bronze octagonal lantern dates back to the 8th century.© Andreas Altenburger / 123RF
Placed at the entrance of a temple, the Nio guardians are responsible for protecting Buddha and chasing away evil spirits.© Werayut Banjongkaew / 123RF
These two huge statues represent Kokūzō, one of the eight bodhisattvas of tantric Buddhism, and the Daibutsu (Great Buddha).© ferwulf / 123RF
The Todai-ji is still an important place of worship for the Buddhist community, who come here to celebrate rituals and ceremonies.© Pascal Bagot / EASYVOYAGE