Nearby Attractions

Tôdai-ji TempleTôdai-ji Temple

Tōdai-ji Temple

Located near the western foothills of Mt. Wakakusa, Tōdai-ji was built at the imperial command of Emperor Shōmu (701–756, r. 724–749). To increase the nation’s peace and security by belief in Buddhism, Emperor Shōmu announced the building of national monasteries (J., Kokubunji) and convents (J., Kokubunniji) in 741. In 743, he ordered the construction of the Great Buddha (J., Rushanabutsu; Skt., Vairocana). On the present site of the Tōdai-ji, he built a memorial hall dedicated to his young son who had passed away at an early age. This hall was developed as a temple called Konshu-ji which was later converted into the national temple of Yamato Province and renamed Konkōmyō-ji. The Great Buddha was constructed as the principal statue for this temple, which began to be called Tōdai-ji from roughly the end of 747.

In 1180, most structures in the temple were burned down by the troops of warlord Taira Shigehira (1156–1185); however, priest Chōgen (1121–1206) reconstructed it. The temple was again destroyed by fire in 1567 during the battle between the Miyoshi and Matsunaga clans. Most of the current temple buildings, including the Great Buddha Hall, were reconstructed in the Edo period (1615–1868).

The Great Buddha
Tōdai-ji has number of valuable Buddhist sculptures and buildings, including the Great Buddha Hall (J., Daibutsuden) in which Vairocana—the cherished “Great Buddha of Nara”—is preserved and the Great South Gate (J., Nandaimon), with two Guardian (Benevolent) Kings (J., Niō; Skt., Vajrapani) recognized as masterpieces of Kamakura sculpture. The Nigatsudō, famous for its annual water-drawing ritual (J., Omizutori) and for the Hokkedō (also known as Sangatsudō), preserves many Buddhist statues and significant architecture representing the Tenpyō period. Tōdai-ji is part of the World Heritage Site “Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara.”

The Nara National Museum has held several exhibitions related to Tōdai-ji, including the “Tōdai-ji Temple” (1980), “The Ancient Documents of Tōdai-ji Temple” (1999), and “Treasures of the Omizutori Ritual and Tōdai-ji's Nigatsudō” (1997-1998,2000-).

Tōdai-ji TempleShōsō-inKōfuku-ji TempleKasuga ShrineShinyakushi-ji Temple
Byakugō-ji TempleGangō-ji TempleHimuro ShrineNara Palace SiteMt. WakakusaNara Park