Saidai-ji (which means great western temple) was established in 765 CE as a counterweight to Todai-ji temple (great eastern temple).
Since 1238, Saidai-ji has been the main temple for the Shingon Risshu sect of Buddhism, when it was taken over by Eison – the founder of the sect.
Although it once rivalled the more famous Todai-ji, over the centuries Saidai-ji has been ravaged many times by fire, so the buildings that remain are not nearly as impressive as those of its eastern cousin.
Most of the current buildings date from the edo period.
Getting to Saidaiji Temple
Saidaiji is located a few minutes walk from the south exit of Yamato-Saidaiji Station on the Kintetsu Nara Line—two stops from the terminal at Kintetsu Nara Station. If travelling by bus, take the Number 12 or 14 from JR Nara Station to the Yamato-Saidaiji Station bus stop.