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Todai Ji Temple

Todai-Ji : The temple of the Big Buddha of Nara

2 min read

The Todai-ji is a Buddhist temple located in Nara, on the main island of Honshu. This large eastern temple includes the Daibutsu-den building, known to be the largest wooden construction in the world and home to a monumental Great Buddha sitting in bronze.

Todai-ji may share his kanji with those of the University of Tokyo, but the comparison stops there. It is, indeed, the best known and probably the most visited temple of the charming town, Nara.

And for good reason, its celebrity is due in particular to the centerpiece of its architecture: a majestic bronze statue of seated Buddha, measuring 18 meters high and 250 tons. It is thus placed between his companions of Kamakura (13m) and Nokogiriyama (31m), certainly far from the much more recent standing representation at Ushiku (120m!).

Todai ji buddha

But it is also the oldest Buddha of the band, since its construction dates back to the middle of the 8th century, when Nara was still the capital of Japan. 

The Daibutsu-den, the Hall of the Big Buddha, was completed in 1707, and is smaller than the original building; it was rectangular before becoming square, and lost one-third of its size. It remains, however, the largest covered wooden building in the world, and is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With its 47 meters high, the Daibutsu-den and its huge wooden pillars impress from the first discovery.

The "great temple of the east," as its literal translation explains, should not obscure the fact that coming from the train station toward the great park, Todai-ji is on your left. You cannot miss the large wooden door, the Nandai-mon Gate, through which the shika deer obviously venture.

Nandaimon Gate


In the pond on the way, an islet welcomes its discreet torii ⛩️ shinto.

Todai Ji Torii


For those who wish to deepen the study of the history of the Todai-ji, a museum awaits the visitor next to the Nandaimon gate. Finally, again as a reminder of the impermanence of things and the smallness of man, cross the vast expanses of lawn, turn left, follow the Daibutsu-den enclosure and take the flight of steps until you reach the hall of Nigatsu-dô, on the terrace of which the city of Nara, unchanging, is unveiled.