406-1 Zoushi-cho


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.


406-1 Zoushi-cho

January - December
Monday - Sunday: 08:00-16:30


Marisa Haag

Absolutely amazing. I've never seen anything comparably as grand and ancient as this temple and its grounds.

Athena Lam

Todai-ji is probably one of the most impressive temples (of the 100+) I've seen in Japan. This is due to a combination of reasons: sheer size, craftsmanship, age of the trees used for the beams and doors, religious symbolism. This current temple, which is rebuilt, is already a smaller version of the two that came before! Studying the carvings can eat up an hour or two. The ones I like the most have faded colours (in contrast to the outside gates that are newer).

The only reason I'd give this a 4-star rating is because of the number of visitors that come. It's well worth getting up to enter right at 9:30am when it opens just so it's a little quieter. That way you can feel the expansive feeling of the high ceiling. After that, you can spend the rest of the day meandering around the quieter, less-visited parts of the park.

Devi Reddy

Omizutori or Shunie, a series of Buddhist ceremonies held here, are among the oldest rituals reoccurring in Japan. The Fire ceremony (Otaimatsu) in particular, is spectacular. Every night for two weeks in March, Todai-ji Temple is lit up with huge torches. Expect it to be crowded with visitors waiting for the event from hours before it begins. Each evening the enormous torches are carried up to the temple balcony and held over the crowd. Burning embers, which fall over the gathered throng, bring blessings for the rest of the year.

The last day of the event is the most impressive by far. All the torches are brought to the balcony at the same time rather than one by one, creating an amazing spectacle.


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