Todai-ji – Nara’s Great Temple | Travel Information

Todai-ji is one of the great temples of Japan, with it being founded in 752. It was intended to be the main center for Buddhist temples around Nara and Kansai, but grew rapidly become so powerful and the Imperial Palace was later moved to Nara.

Todai-ji main hall held the world record for the largest wooden building until 1998, despite the current hall actually being smaller than the original. This current temple dates back to the 1600’s.

The main hall as it’s known in English (Daibestuden) -pictured above- is home to an enormous Buddha statue, one of the largest in Japan – called the ‘Great Buddha’ which has a total height of 15 meters (about 50 feet). The bronze statue was cast in 749, and is largest bronze Buddha statue in the world to date! Unfortunately, with something as old as the Great Buddha, many repairs have been done to fix damages from earthquakes, fires, and general age. For example, the head was recast in the Edo Era (1615-1867), and the hands are from the Momoyama Era (1568-1615). Little remains from the original 752 Statue, but it’s still certainly worth a visit, especially because of how close it is to another famous Nara Attraction, the Nara Deer Park.

The Todaiji temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site, as one of the ‘Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara’. 

As you enter the temple grounds, you will walk through Nandaimon, which means the ‘Great Southern Gate’. Inside, you will meet the guards which protect the Great Buddha – no, these aren’t people, but fierce and intimidating statues.

These statues are as old as the 12th Century, and are part of the National Treasure and World Heritage Site.

Admission & Hours

  • 7:30am-5:30pm (April til October)
  • 8:00am-5:00pm (Novemeber til March)
  • 600