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.
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The temple is amazing! To see the buddha and all the wooden structures is amazing. There are a lot of people here so if you get claustrophobic or anything you might want to go right when it opens in the morning.
This is definitely worth the visit and the entry fee, the Buddha is so much bigger than I even expected.
My advice would be to go early to avoid the crowds, there will be tons of tourists, visitors and school kids on trips around and after midday. For a more chill walk around this giant Buddha my suggestion is to go early.
You can also a giant statue of Buddha.
It can get very crowded with Japanese school groups on field trips, but the place is really big and the groups move around in are very organized fashion, it doesn't interfere with the experience.
Be aware of the deer: Meandering around who are revered here, feed them, they'll snatch your map right out of your hands and gobble it up!