Todai-ji Temple (Great Buddha,location,history)

Todai-ji Temple, Great Buddha

The information about Todai-ji Temple is presented here. Todai-ji Temple was added to the list of World Heritage Sites in 1998 as a “Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara”. Todai-ji Temple enshrines 14.98-meter-high Great Buddha (Daibutsu) as its main deity in Great Buddha Hall (Daibutsuden), which is 46.8 meters high, 57 meters at the front, and 50.5 meters at the sides. Great Buddha suffered two military fires after it was built, and although the base, sleeves, and other parts are from the original construction, most of the body was rebuilt in the Kamakura period (1185-1333) and the head in the Edo period (1603-1868).

【Todai-ji Temple Location Map & Directions】

Address: 406-1 Zoshichou, Nara City, Nara Prefecture, Japan
Access (How to get there): Daibutsu-den Kasuga Taisha-mae bus stop (about 5 minutes on foot), Kintetsu Nara Station (about 15 minutes on foot), JR Nara Station (about 25 minutes on foot)

【Opening Hours & Closed (confirmation required)】

Opening Hours: 8:00-17:00 (November-March), 7:30-17:30 (April-October)
Closed: open year round

【Entrance Fees & Tickets (confirmation required)】

Individual: Adults 600 yen, Elementary School Students 300 yen

【Todai-ji Temple History】

Todai-ji Temple (東大寺) is said to have originated from Kinshosen-ji Temple (Kinsho-ji Temple), which was built in 728 by the 45th Emperor Shomu (聖武天皇) and Empress Komyo (光明皇后) to mourn the deceased Prince Motoi (基皇子). In 741, Emperor Shomu issued an imperial decree for the construction of Kokubun-ji Temple (Konkomyo-ji Temple) and Kokubun-niji Temple (Hokke-ji Temple), and the following year, 742, Kinshosen-ji Temple became Yamato Kokubun-ji Temple. In 743, Emperor Shomu issued an imperial decree for the casting of Great Buddha (Daibutsu), and the casting of Great Buddha (Daibutsu) at Todai-ji Temple began in 745. After that, the casting of Great Buddha was completed in 749, Great Buddha Hall (Daibutsuden) was completed in 751, and the consecrating ceremony was held in 752. After that, East Pagoda (To-to), West Pagoda (Sai-to), Lecture Hall (Ko-do), and Monks’ cells (So-bo) were built,and the whole temple complex was developed. In 855, however, a major earthquake caused the head of Great Buddha to fall off, and it was later restored by Shinnyo-hoshinno (真如法親王), the 3rd prince of the 51st Emperor Heijo. Accidental fires and lightning strikes destroyed West Pagoda (Sai-to) and Lecture Hall (Ko-do), and Nandai-mon Gate collapsed. In 1180, Great Buddha Hall (Daibutsuden) and most of the other temple buildings were destroyed by fire when Taira no Shigehira burned them down. The following year, in 1181, Shunjobo Chogen (俊乗房重源) began rebuilding Todai-ji Temple, later completing the repair of Great Buddha, and the consecrating ceremony was held in 1185. Great Buddha Hall (Daibutsuden) was rebuilt in 1195. In 1567, the Battle of Todai-ji Daibutsuden destroyed most of the temple except for Nigatsu-do, Hokke-do, Nandai-mon Gate, Tengai-mon Gate, and Shosoin. Later, Yamada Doan (山田道安) repaired Great Buddha and built the temporary Great Buddha Hall (Daibutsuden), but the temporary Great Buddha Hall (Daibutsuden) later collapsed in a great wind, and Great Buddha was exposed to the elements for nearly 100 years. In 1684, Kokei (公慶上人) was allowed to rebuild Great Buddha Hall (Daibutsuden) in Edo Shogunate, began casting of Great Buddha head in 1686, completed the repair of Great Buddha in 1691, and the consecrating ceremony was held in 1692. Great Buddha Hall (Daibutsuden) was rebuilt in 1694, completed in 1708, and the consecrating ceremony was held in 1709. After that, the maintenance of the cathedral continued.
*reference・・・Todai-ji Temple website

【Todai-ji Temple Highlights (May be undisclosed)】

★Casting of Great Buddha (Daibutsu, 大仏, National Treasure) began in 745, and the consecrating ceremony was held in 752. In 1180, it was destroyed by fire in the Nanto Burning, leaving only the lower half of the body and some other parts, after which Shunjoubo Shigen began recasting it, and in 1185, an consecrating ceremony was held. In 1567, however, it was burned down again in the Battle of Todai-ji Daibutsuden, and the head was recasting in 1690, and an consecrating ceremony was held in 1692. The pedestal and sleeves of Great Buddha are original, but most of the body was recasting in the Kamakura period (1185-1333) and the head in the Edo period (1603-1868).
★Great Buddha Hall (Daibutsuden, 大仏殿, National Treasure) was rebuilt in 1705. Great Buddha Hall is about 46.8 meters high, 57 meters wide, and 50.5 meters deep. In addition to Great Buddha, Great Buddha Hall also houses two statues of Nyoirin Kannon and Kokuzo Bosatsu as supporting statues.
★Nandai-mon (Nandai-mon Gate, 南大門, National Treasure) was rebuilt by Shunjobo Chogen in 1199. Nandai-mon houses two statues of Kongorikishi which were completed in 1203.
Todai-ji Temple Highlights

【Events (confirmation required)】

★Omizutori (お水取り, Shuni-e, 修二会, Otaimatsu, お松明) is held every year from March 1st to 14th. During Omizutori, Doji with a large torch accompanies Rengyoshu as a street light for Rengyoshu. The Ohtaimatsu torch is about 6 to 8 meters long and weighs about 40 kilograms, while Kagotaimatsu torch on the 12th is about 8 meters long and weighs about 70 kilograms. Omizutori was started by Chyujitsu in 752 and has continued uninterruptedly ever since. It is said that being exposed to the sparks of fire in the torch brings blessings such as good health and happiness.
★Shomu Tenno-sai (Emperor Shomu Festival, 聖武天皇祭) is held every year on May 2nd. Shomu Tenno-sai commemorates the 45th Emperor Shomu, the founder of Todai-ji Temple. At Shomu Tenno-sai, a procession of sakigake, monks, children, musicians, Ono Komachi, NARA CITY concierge, etc. is held.
★Manto Kuyo-e (万灯供養会) is held every year on the evening of August 15th, the last day of Uran-Bon festival. About 2,500 lanterns are placed around Great Buddha Hall (Daibutsuden) to offer to the spirits of the dead. each lantern having four lights and the total number of lanterns reaching about 10,000.
★Free worship (無料参拝) is held every year from midnight to early morning on January 1st and at night on August 13th and 14th. The viewing window of Great Buddha Hall (Daibutsuden) opens and you can see the face of Great Buddha.

【Flower Calendar (cherry blossoms, etc )】

★The best time to see cherry blossoms (桜) is from late March to early April. At Todai-ji Temple, Somei-Yoshino and Beni-Shiidare cherry trees are planted in front of Great Buddha Hall (Daibutsuden) surrounded by Great Buddha Hall, Chu-mon Gate, Higashi-kairo (East Corridor) and Nishi-kairo (West Corridor). Cherry trees are also planted in Nara Park (Nara Deer Park) in the area around Todai-ji Temple.
(The best time to see the plants depends on the climate of the year.)

【Telephone (Please refrain from making phone calls.)】

Tel: +81-742-22-5511

【Recommended Walking Route】

The recommended walking route from Todai-ji Temple is via Tamukeyama Hachimangu Shrine to Mt. Wakakusa-yama. There are many deer in the area of Todai-ji Temple and Mt. Wakakusa-yama, and you will be healed by deer. It may be a good idea to feed the deer crackers and play with them. (Deer are wild creatures and should be treated with care.)

【Remarks (access, parking, disclaimer, etc)】
If you plan to visit Todai-ji Temple, be sure to check the latest information.


  1. 柳生一刀石
  2. 若草山(Mt. Wakakusa-yama)
  3. 吉野山