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Tōdai-ji

Tōdai-ji or Todaiji or Konkōmyō shitennō gokuku no tera is a Buddhist temple built by Emperor Shōmu (r.772-749) on the slopes of Mount Wakakusa in Nara, Nara Prefecture, Kansai Region, Japan, as the main temple of the Kegon sect. Gohonzon is a Wairocana Buddha known as the Nara Daibutsu or the Great Buddha of Nara.

Tōdai-ji means "eastern temple" because it is located east of the capital city of Heijō-kyō. The structure is built as a large-scale temple with the main building (Kon-dō or Daibutsuden) containing Daibutsu and to the east and west has a 7-level pagoda as high as 100 meters, but since Heian times most of the buildings have been burned twice due to war.

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The remaining buildings from the time of Nara (794 - 1185) are only part of the base of the Daibutsu. The main structure is now built in the early Edo period (1603 - 1867) with an area of only 66% compared to the original building at the time of Nara. Emperor Shōmu made Tōdai-ji a central temple for more than 60 temples of kokubunji throughout Japan.

Emperor Shōmu and Empress Kōmyō set up a temple on Mount Wakakusa to commemorate his deceased son. The temple became the home of nine monks. Daibutsu began to be built in 747 and from then on it began to be called Tōdai-ji. Development orders have been issued by Emperor Shōmu on 743, but the palace needs strong support from the people for large-scale projects such as Daibutsu development.

The inauguration ceremony took place in 752 led by Bodhisena was an Indian-born monk. The next project is the construction of the Daibutsu Hall (Daibutsuden) in 758. The four influential figures in the Tōdai-ji development project are called Shishō or the four saints consisting of Rōben, Emperor Shōmu, Gyōki, and Bodhisena.

The nobles and temples are well-equipped, but large-scale projects such as Daibutsu and Daibutsu Hall building drain state money that makes life more difficult. The rebellion was led by Tachibana no Naramaro and Emperor Shōmu passed away in 756 at the time of the project.

Nandaimon or the Great South Gate

In 962, Nandaimon collapsed by hurricanes but was rebuilt during the Kamakura period in 1199, led by Shunjōbō Chōgen monks by introducing Daibutsuyō or "Indian style" architectural styles. Chōgen studied Daibutsuyō architecture from the Song Dynasty in China.

Characteristics of Daibutsuyō is a wooden connection in the form of a binder block that pierces the column pole. The ceiling opened to show the horses. On the left and right side of the front is a pair of Kongorikishi (Nio), while on the left and right side of the inside are a pair of stone lions.

Mokuzo Kongōrikishi Ritsuzō

A pair of 8.4-meter high Kongorikishi wooden statues welcomes people entering Nandaimon. Ungyō Statue on the right side and Agyō statue on the left side. Various objects and documents were found from inside the statue when both were dismantled in the refurbishment project from 1988 to 1993.

Agyo is a work of busshi or sculptor Buddha named Unkei and Kaikei who has 13 subordinate sculptors, while Ungyō is the work of Teikaku and Tankei which has 12 subordinate sculptors.

Chūmon or Central Gate

Chūmon is the entrance to the Daibutsu Hall complex. The building is a rōmon-shaped gate or tall gate that looks like a two-story building and was built in 1716 in the style of irimoya-zukuri architecture. On the left and right side of the main gate is the wall of the fence. When viewed from above, building gates and walls form the letter "u" which fences the Daibutsu Hall.

Nyōirin Kannon and Kokūzō Bosatsu

Nyōirin Kannon or Rupang Avalokitesvara Cintamanicakra and Kokūzō Bosatsu or Akasagarbha Bodhisattva sit cross-legged on the left and right side of the Daibutsu. Wooden sculptures come from Yamamoto Junkei from Kyoto and Tsubai Kenkei from Osaka in the Edo period. The completion of these two statues took 30 years in which Nyōirin Kannon was completed in 1738 and Kokūzō Bosatsu was completed in 1752.

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Location: Nara, Nara Prefecture, Kansai Region, Japan.

Routes and public transport: Flights to Kansai International Airport in Izumisano, then use the Airport Limousine buses to the railway station.

If you have a Japan Rail Pass, you can use the Haruka limited express to Tennoji station and then transfer to the Yamatoji line to get to Nara. It's cheaper to use the Kūkō-Kyūkō express train from Nankai Railway to Shin-Imamiya, then take the JR Yamatoji line.

Advice: Tōdai-ji is located in the northern part of Nara Park or a 30-minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station or 45 minutes from JR Nara Station. Daibutsuden Hall is open from 7.30am to 5.30pm (April to October) and 8.00am to 5.00pm (November to March)



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