Located in Deer Park (Nara Park) in Nara, about 35 minutes from Osaka by train, Todaiji Temple is one of Japan’s most famous and historically significant Buddhist temples. Originally built in the year 752, the temple as it exists today dates back to 1709. The main hall, called Big Buddha Hall (Daibutsuden), is the world’s largest wooden building, even though it’s a third smaller than the original hall from the 700s.
The greatest attraction in the Todaiji Temple complex is the enormous bronze Buddha statue (Japan’s largest) housed with the massive main hall. When the temple was first built, Emperor Shomu planned for Todaiji to serve as the headquarters of Buddhism throughout Japan, and he ordered the casting of the statue as part of that plan. The 50-foot-tall (15-meter-tall) statue required eight castings to complete.
According to local legend, anyone able to squeeze through the hole in the pillar located behind the Big Buddha achieves enlightenment.
Todaiji Temple is a 15-minute walk away from Kintetsu Nara Station, but it can also be reached by bus or taxi. Set aside about three hours to see Todaiji and the other temples and structures huddled together in Deer Park.