Tōdai-ji – 東大寺
Let’s talk about one of Japan’s most visited spots, yet Nara Prefecture’s symbol, the Tōdai-ji temple!
What’s special about Tōdai-ji?
Since its foundation, the Tōdai-ji’s Big Buddha Hall, the Daibutsu-den, is the biggest wooden building in the world. Throughout the years, this hall has been victim of fires and other disasters: the building we can see today in a 1692 reconstruction, with the size of two thirds of the original one.
In the Daibutsu-den Rushana Buddha, here known as the Big Buddha of Nara, is mainly enshrined. The statue dedicated to this buddha is 15 meters high. Not far from it there are two statues of bodhisattvas (so are called the human beings who attained illumination but stayed on the earth to help others to reach it as well).
How to reach the Tōdai-ji
Click here to see how to get there.
We’ve been several times to the Tōdai-ji, always walking form Kintetsu Nara Station.
Going East from the station’s exit you enter Nara Park: here you can see the deer hanging freely around. They are mild, cute animals; there’s no reason to be afraid of them. Anyway, if you have some food with you, they will come closer seeking for it. If you want to feed them you can buy some rice crackers for deer in the park. When I tried to give them some they were very impatient.
Walking from the park to the temple there are many souvenir shops one next to the other. And the end of the route, you arrive at Tōdai-ji Nandai-mon, Tōdai-ji’s big southern gate.
To enter the Daibutsu-den (the big wooden hall enshrining the statue) you have to buy the entry ticket: it costs 500 yen but for 800 yen you can also visit the temple’s museum.
Finally let’s enter in the Daibutsu-den!
In the ancient building you can feel smell of wood, and immediately the Big Buddha’s impressive figure appears. Behind it there are many Bodhisattva statues and not far from them other two big statues take place. All these statues create a mysterious and solemn atmosphere.
The Daibutsu-den is a interesting place: just next to the big statue’s right hand, there is a pillar with a hole on the base. It is said to be as big as the Big Buddha’s nose. If you can pass through it, you will attain illuminationin your next life. I didn’t go through it, but I will try next time!
In the temple’s park there are some weeping cherry trees, they are beautiful in Spring.
Even if simply, we introduced the Tōdai-ji temple. In ancient times, Nara was the heart of Japanese culture, as well as one of its capitals, and so there are many places here that are World Heritages. Take your time to enjoy this city. And keep an eye on your pockets, the deer know where you keep the food!