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Home - Travel - Sightseeing Guide - Kansai - Nara
Todaiji Temple 
# 2   of 16 most visited
sights in Nara

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Todaiji (東大寺, Tōdaiji, "Great Eastern Temple") is one of Japan's most famous and historically significant temples and a landmark of Nara. The temple was constructed in 752 as the head temple of all provincial Buddhist temples of Japan and grew so powerful that the capital was moved from Nara to Nagaoka in 784 in order to lower the temple's influence on government affairs.

Todaiji's main hall, the Daibutsuden (Big Buddha Hall) is the world's largest wooden building, despite the fact that the present reconstruction of 1692 is only two thirds of the original temple hall's size. The massive building houses one of Japan's largest bronze statues of Buddha (Daibutsu). The 15 meters tall, seated Buddha represents Vairocana and is flanked by two Bodhisattvas.

Big Buddha (Daibutsu) - his open hand alone is as tall as a human being

Several smaller Buddhist statues and models of the former and current buildings are also on display in the Daibutsuden Hall. Another popular attraction is a pillar with a hole in its base that is the same size as the Daibutsu's nostril. It is said that those who can squeeze through this opening will be granted enlightenment in their next life.

Along the approach to Todaiji stands the Nandaimon Gate, a large wooden gate watched over by two fierce looking statues. Representing the Nio Guardian Kings, the statues are designated national treasures together with the gate itself. Temple visitors will also encounter some deer from the adjacent Nara Park, begging for shika senbei, special crackers for deer that are sold for around 150 yen.

Deer in front of the Nandaimon Gate

A new addition to the temple is the Todaiji Museum, which was opened to the public in 2011 just next to the Nandaimon Gate. Rotating exhibitions from the temple's large collection of religious art and cultural treasures, including large Buddhist statues, are held at the museum.

Todaiji's grounds are spacious and cover most of northern Nara Park, including a number of smaller buildings in the hills to the east of the main hall. These include Hokkedo (also known as Sangatsudo) and Nigatsudo. The Nigatsudo Hall offers nice views of the city from its balcony, and is the site of the spectacular Omizutori ceremonies, which are held annually March 1 through 14.

Todaiji Museum

Any Questions? Ask them in our question forum.

How to get there
Todaiji is located in the northern part of Nara Park. It is about a 30 minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station, or about a 45 minute walk from JR Nara Station. It can also be reached by bus from either station. Get off at Todaiji Daibutsuden from where it is a 5-10 minute walk to Todaiji's main building.

How to get to and around Nara

Hours and Fees
Daibutsuden Hall
Hours:8:00 to 16:30 (November to February)
8:00 to 17:00 (March)
7:30 to 17:30 (April to September)
7:30 to 17:00 (October)
Closed:No closing days
Admission:500 yen

Todaiji Museum
Hours:9:30 to closing time of Daibutsuden Hall (admission ends 30 minutes before closing)
Closed:Between exhibitions
Admission:500 yen (museum only), 800 yen (museum and Daibutsuden Hall)

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Hotels and Ryokan
Nara is commonly visited on a day trip from Kyoto or Osaka, and only a few tourists overnight there. Indeed, the range of accommodation in Nara is rather limited, but there are a few options for those aiming to visit the city in more than a day trip. A location close to Nara Park is generally preferred.
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Asukaso
A fine ryokan with hot spring bath offering views of the famous five-story pagoda. Located in the heart of Nara town.
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Centrally located ryokan with outdoor baths that view onto the pagoda of Kofukuji Temple.
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Hotel Fujita Nara
Regular business hotel located halfway between JR Nara Station and Nara Park.
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Nara Hotel
One of the oldest Western style hotels in Japan, located next to Nara Park.
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Tours and Packages
Nara Tours
Various tours and travel packages for Nara and surroundings.

User Ratings
Ratings for Todaiji Temple:
japan-guide.com Rating:
  best of the best  
User Rating (by 1347 users):
93/100
  highly recommended

Best rated sights nationwide (out of 764):
22.  Hiking in Kirishima (Kirishima)   93/100
23.  Railway Museum (Nagoya)   93/100
24.  Sojiji Temple (Noto Peninsula)   93/100
25.  Monkey Park (Yamanouchi)   93/100
26.  Taketomi Island (Yaeyama Islands)   93/100
27.  Todaiji Temple (Nara)   93/100
28.  Himeji Castle (Himeji)   93/100
29.  Cherry Blossoms (Kakunodate)   93/100
30.  Climbing Mount Fuji (Mount Fuji)   93/100
31.  Hot Springs (Kinosaki)   93/100
Most visited sights nationwide (out of 894):
17.  Yoyogi Park (Tokyo)   2588
18.  Nara Park (Nara)   2567
19.  Peace Park (Hiroshima)   2556
20.  Imperial Palace (Tokyo)   2533
21.  Osaka Castle (Osaka)   2529
22.  Todaiji Temple (Nara)   2473
23.  Sensoji Temple (Tokyo)   2362
24.  Ginkakuji (Kyoto)   2295
25.  Nijo Castle (Kyoto)   2200
26.  Chinatown (Yokohama)   2151

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Japanese Links
Todaiji
Official website.
Todaiji Museum
Official website.

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