• Todai-ji Temple's photo

Todai-ji Temple

Nara City

Start your journey with a greeting to the Great Buddha of Nara

When visiting Nara, the first place you should visit is the Birushana Buddha, the largest gilt copper Buddhist statue in Japan. This is generally known as the “Great Buddha of Nara”. The Great Buddha is located in the Great Buddha Hall at Todai-ji Temple in the northern area of Nara Park. There are other halls in Todai-ji Temple, making this a central location for sightseeing. The Great Buddha is 15 meters tall. When you first encounter the Great Buddha, he seems much bigger than you can imagine from this number, with a surprisingly overwhelming presence. The history of the Great Buddha is the history of Nara. Let’s take a look back on how the Great Buddha came to be.

  • Todai-ji Temple's photo
  • Todai-ji Temple's photo
  • Todai-ji Temple's photo

The Great Buddha wishes for the tranquility of the country and happiness of the people.

The Great Buddha was born in the year 752. At that time, Nara was the capital of Japan. The capital was moved to Kyoto in 794. Nara is an area with a longer history than Kyoto. However, at that time, the capital experienced an epidemic, and disasters one after the other, including earthquakes. In this time of unending political change and rebellion, the leader of that time, Emperor Shomu ordered that the Great Buddha be built to safeguard the nation. He ordered a number of temples be created around Japan with the name “Kokubun-ji”, and the greatest of these was Todai-ji Temple. The Great Buddha was then placed there as a symbol of the unending universe.

  • Todai-ji Temple's photo
  • Todai-ji Temple's photo

Todai-ji Temple escaped the fires of war to become a World Heritage site!

Todai-ji Temple was destroyed by fire twice, and rebuilt each time. The first time was in the year 1180 and the second in 1567. Both times the Great Buddha Hall was burned in insurrections, and everyone from aristocrats to commoners pitched in, taking the time to rebuild it almost the exact same way. The current structure was rebuilt in 1709. It escaped the destruction of World War II and was registered as a World Heritage site in 1998. The existing building is the world’s largest wooden structure.

  • Todai-ji Temple's photo
  • Todai-ji Temple's photo
  • Todai-ji Temple's photo

After seeing the Great Buddha Hall, stop by the grounds of the other halls.

You should know that “temples” consist of a number of halls, pagodas, and gates. The Great Buddha Hall where the Great Buddha rests is the core of Todai-ji Temple. Guardian gods protect the Great South Gate at the entrance to the temple, and the best scenery within the temple grounds can be found at Nigatsu-do in the east. Hokke-do houses a number of Buddhist statues including Amoghapasa, and in the west the Four Heavenly Kings are enshrined in Kaidan-do. All of these components make up Todai-ji Temple. Although you will need at least a half day to see all of these spots, you’ll gain a deep understanding of the worldview of Buddhism and the way temples here came to be. Because the halls can be visited from early morning, this is one of the best times to arrive when the air is fresh and pure.

  • Todai-ji Temple's photo
  • Todai-ji Temple's photo
  • Todai-ji Temple's photo

For reference

  • Address
    406-1 Zoshi-cho, Nara-shi, Nara-ken
  • Telephone
  • Hours
    Grounds can be toured at any time. Great Buddha Hall, Hokke-do, Kaidan-do: 7:30 A.M. to 5:30 P.M. (November to February: 8:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M, March: 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.).
  • Open
    365 days a year
  • Price
    Great Buddha Hall: 500 yen, Hokke-do: 500 yen, Kaidan-do: 500 yen


Kansai International Airport is a 1 hour, 45 minute flight from New Chitose Airport.
Kansai International Airport is a 1 hour flight from Haneda Airport.
Kansai International Airport is a 1 hour, 20 minute flight from Narita Airport.
Kansai International Airport is a 1 hour, 15 minute flight from Fukuoka Airport.
Kansai International Airport is a 2 hour, 20 minute flight from Naha Airport.
Take the shuttle bus from Kansai International Airport to Kintetsunara Station (approx.1 hr. 25 min).
  • Or take the Nankai Electric Railway from Kansai International Airport via Kintetsu Namba Station to Kintetsunara Station (1 hr. 30 min.).
The Great Buddha is a 15 minute walk from the station.


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