Todai-ji Temple is a must-see tourist attraction in Nara. It is known for the Great Buddha that sits in the Great Buddha Hall, one of the biggest wooden constructions in the world. The main gate, the Nandaimon Gate, also overwhelms visitors with its extraordinary size. There are many sights and treasures from the Nara Period to see, such as the Hokke-do and Kaidan-do halls, so we recommend planning to stay at least 1-2 hours.
The Must-Visit Great Buddha! About Todai-ji Temple
Todai-ji is the home of the Great Buddha that has become a symbol of Nara Prefecture. The temple was founded by Emperor Shomu in honor of the crown prince who died as a baby, then in 743 (Tenpyo 15th Year), he ordered the construction of the Buddha statue in an attempt to protect the country through the power of Buddhism. In 751, the statue of the Great Buddha was completed. The Great Buddha Hall was built afterwards, though it is unclear how long it took. Therefore, it took about 40 years to complete the temple. Protected by the emperor, the temple flourished. However, afterwards, the temple was almost burned down twice due to war.
Highlights of Todai-ji Temple
The 15 meter tall Great Buddha statue is the largest bronze Buddha in the world. Its official name is the Rushana Seated Buddha, and it is said that roughly half of the national population at the time, some 2.6 million people, were involved in its construction, using about 500 tons of bronze. Therefor, the main hall of Todai-ji Temple, the Great Buddha Hall, is a must-see. It's one of the largest wooden constructions in the world, at 57 meters wide, 50 meters deep, and 48 meters tall.
Flanking the Great Buddha on either side are a statue of Kokuzo Bodhisattva (left) and a statue of Nyoirin Kannon (right). Behind them, there are also large statues of Komoku-ten and Tamon-ten. In one of the pillars inside the Great Buddha Hall is a hole said to be the same size as the hole in the Great Buddha's nose. It is said that if you can pass through the hole, it will bring good luck. Children can easily pass though the hole.
There are many things to see at Todai-ji Temple. In addition to the Great Buddha Hall, from March 1st ~ 14th there is a water collecting ceremony held at the Nigatsu-do, which also has an outstanding view, there is the Hokke-do, where 10 national treasures are lined up in the temple's oldest building, and the Kaidan-do, where statues of the four sharp-eyed emperors are on view.
- Spot name: Great Buddha Hall, Hokke-do, Kaidan-do
- Business Hours: April~October 7:30-17:30, November~March 8:00-17:00
- Holidays: Open year-round
- Spot name: Todai-ji Temple Museum
- Business Hours:
- April~October 9:30-17:30 (last entry 17:00)
- November~March 9:30-17:00 (last entry 16:30)
- Holidays: Open year-round (temporary closures sometimes)
Access to Todai-ji Temple
From Nara Station on the JR Yamatoji Line or the Kintetsu Nara Line, take the local circuit bus for about 5 minutes, and get off at the "Todai-ji Daibutsu-den/Kasuga-taisha-mae" bus stop and walk about 5 minutes. Or it is about a 20 minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station.
Spot name: Todai-ji Temple
- Address: 406-1 Zoshi-cho, Nara-shi, Nara Prefecture 〒630-8211
- Access: About a 5 minute walk from the "Todai-ji Daibutsu-den/Kasuga-taisha-mae" bus stop
- Language: Official website available in English. Pamphlets in English, German, Traditional Chinese, French, and Korean available for 700 yen
- Ticket: 600 yen
- Set tickets (Great Buddha Hall and Todai-ji Temple Museum): 1000 yen
- Business Hours/Holidays: Varies by facility