Tōdai-ji

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Name in Japanese: 東大寺
Area: Nara
Address: Todai-ji, Zoushicho, Nara-shi, Nara-ken [map]
Access: 1.2 km from Kintetsu Nara Station Kintetsu Nara Line (A28)
Hours: 7:30am -5:30pm (April to October), 8am - 5pm (November to March)
Admission: Adults: ¥600
Children: ¥300

Todaiji was once one of Japan’s Seven Great Temples and houses the world’s largest bronze Buddha. As one of the main sites of interest in Nara, the Temple was originally built in 752 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Todaiji Buddha
Photo by Gregory Lane

In the Daibutsuden (the main hall surrounding the seated Buddha) there are models of previous temple structures and a pillar with a hole the size of the Buddha’s nostril in it. If you can climb through the hole, you’ll be granted a long life – so it’s worth a try!

The Nandaimon Gate which stands at the temple entrance is the largest gate of its kind in Japan, with the two guardians within known as the two kings of Todai-ji.

Nandaimon Gate at Todaiji with deer
Photo by Gregory Lane

The temple is a 19 minute walk from Kintetsu-Nara Station and a 30 minute walk from Nara Station.

Note that the entry fee is just for entering the complex. If you want to enter the great Buddha hall or the Todaiji Museum, there are separate charges. They do have a “set ticket” which provides admission to both for ¥1,000.