Nara Trip: Tōdai-ji Temple's Great Buddha Hall, the Largest Wooden Building in the World


Todaiji's Daibutsuden (Great Buddha Hall), the largest wooden building in the world

In Nara, there are a number of World Heritage including historical buildings and temples particularly in the Nara Park vicinity, which is the most popular tourist area. One specific place we visited was Todaiji Temple ((東大寺, "Great Eastern Temple"), which was built in 752 (Nara period) as the head temple of all provincial Buddhist temples of Japan. It is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site as one of the "Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara". Todaiji temple comprises several pavilions and halls, including many designated as national treasures of Japan.

13th Century Great South Gate also called Nandaimon at Todaiji Temple

closer look of  Nandaimon Gate

We went through the Great South Gate (Nandaimon), which is the main gate of Todai-ji Temple. The original erected during the Nara period, was destroyed by a typhoon during the Heian period. The present structure, which dates to the Kamakura period, was built using what is known as the "Daibutsu style". The Great South Gate is the largest temple entrance gate in Japan, suitable in scale to the Great Buddha Hall. (source)


entrance / ticket booth counters

After our awesome encounter with the groups of deer (click here), we decided it was time for us to see the Daibutsuden (Great Buddha Hall). To the left of the main entrance there are some steps that lead us directly to the ticket counters. Admission fee was JPY500 per adult.

 
Todaiji's Daibutsuden Hall is two-third of its original size

Soon we entered the inner courtyard and were delighted to see the horned roof  hall and the beautiful garden surrounding the area. Todaiji's main hall, the Daibutsuden Hall is among the world's largest wooden buildings and also home to the one of the largest bronze Buddhist statues in the world.

At the entrance hall, first thing that really caught my attention was a statue of Yakushi Nyorai, a Buddha of medicine and healing. I've been to many temples but it's my first time to see such like this. It's kind of frightening and looks somewhat mummified at first glance. It is said that if you are sick, touch the statue and you will be healed.

Yakushi Nyorai statue seated at the entrance of Daibutsuden Hall

a huge incense pot at the entrance

As soon as we entered the doorway the gigantic Daibutsu Buddha (Vairocana) greeted us. It is made of copper and bronze, weighs 500 metric tonnes and the seated height is 14.98 meters. The pedestal of the Buddha still retains much original structure (built in the 18th century), but the statue has been repaired many times.

Daibutsu Buddha

There are also giant temple guards and statues that are also of great significance.

Nyoirin Kannon statue, the fulfiller of all wishes

Komokuten statue, guardian of the west

Tamonten statue, guardian of the north

There are souvenir shops inside the temple.


Visiting Todai-ji Temple was more like an opportunity to experience something a little different from the usual Japanese temples. I'm glad we decided to visit here.

Till next time,

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