Todaiji is most famous for its giant Great Buddha statue, which was decreed to be built by Emperor Shomu in 743. The origins of Todaiji are from a temple called Kinshoji which was founded in 728 as a resting place for the spirit of Crown Price Motoi, son of Emperor Shomu.
Under the national system of monasteries, called the Kokubunji system, which was implemented in 741 by the Emperor, the status of Todaiji became further elevated to chief temple. The image of the Buddha was completed in 749, when the capital returned to Nara and it was consecrated in 752 with an elaborate ceremony.
As Todaiji was the chief temple, it was the venue for important rituals such as prayers for the peace of the nation and prosperity of the people. It was also a centre for the training of scholar monks of the Buddhist doctrine.
With the onset of the Meiji era in 1868, when the separation of Shinto and Buddhist religious establishments was legislated, the existence of Todaiji was threatened. However, it managed to survive this threat and today preserves many historical and cultural treasures form the past.