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2013 photos
 Todaiji Buddhist Temple
Nara, Japan


A UNESCO's World Heritage Site

Todaiji 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.

The Great Buddha Hall (Daibutsuden) has been rebuilt twice after fire. The current building was finished in 1709, and although immense - 187 feet long and 164feet wide - it is actually 30% smaller than its predecessor. Until 1998, it was the world's largest wooden building.

The great image of Vairocana - the Great Buddha statue - was the center of rituals and prayers for the peace of the nation, protection against epidemics, crops’ improvement and bringing prosperity to the people.

"...by the time the Buddha was completed in 751, it had consumed most of Japan's bronze production for several years and left the country almost bankrupt.  The Great Buddha was finally dedicated in 752 with great pomp and ceremony. The emperor and his family were present for the occasion, as were hundreds of local monks and ambassadors from China, India and more distant places. The statue was dedicated by "opening his eyes" - an Indian priest stood on a specially built platform and painted in the eyes using a gigantic brush.  The Great Buddha statue has also been damaged, especially due to earthquakes, and recast several times. The current statue dates from 1692." - Sacred Destinations (online March 2014)


Great South Gate (Nandaimon) dating from the late 12th century



Another gate (mon)
Four details below:



Gate (mon) -  #1 of four details:  Hidden roof design with curved eaves ... Kawara ceramic  roof tiles



Gate (mon) -  #2 of four details:  Rafters supporting eaves ..... Tokyo



Gate (mon) -  #3 of four details



Gate (mon) -  #4 of four details


In Front of the Great Buddha Hall


Bronze octagonal lantern Tower (8th century).
Four details below:



Octagonal bronze Lantern Tower (8th century) - #1 of four details



Octagonal bronze Lantern Tower (8th century) - #2 of four details



Octagonal bronze Lantern Tower (8th century) - #3 of four details



Octagonal  bronze Lantern Tower (8th century) - #4 of four details



Temizu - water ablution pavilion for a ceremonial purification rite known as temizu.



Boys lighting incense sticks


Great Buddha Hall


Great Buddha Hall (Daibutsuden).
Until 1998, the world's largest wooden building.
The structure was built in the 8th century and was destroyed by fire caused by wars on two occasions (1180 and 1567). The present building was rebuilt in 1709 following the same features of the original, except that due to budget constraints it is a third smaller.



Great Buddha Hall - Tokyo



Great Buddha Hall.
Note 8th century bronze octagonal lantern - shown above.



Great Buddha Hall - Note stone Jizō statue with red bibbed material at lower left: detail in next illustration below:



Great Buddha Hall - Stone Jizō
Jizo Bodhisattva, one of the most beloved and revered Bodhisattvas in Mahayana Buddhism. Jizo is the embodiment of the Bodhisattva Vow, the aspiration to save all beings from suffering. He is the protector of women, children, and travelers in the six realms of existence. The function of this great Bodhisattva is to guide travelers in both the physical and spiritual realms.



Great Buddha Hall - Tokyo and doors



Great Buddha Hall - doors



Great Buddha Hall - doors



Great Buddha Hall.
Todai-ji Daibutsu, or Great Buddha statue, Japan's largest bronze statue of the Buddha - 49 feet in height.


Great Buddha Hall



Great Buddha Hall.
The statue of the Great Buddha is monumental. The bronze figure was modeled in eight stages, and its construction took three years. The statue is about 49 feet  high and weighs 500 tons. The original statue was covered in gold leaf. Over the years, earthquakes and fires have damaged the statue, but it has always been restored.



Great Buddha Hall - ceiling



Great Buddha Hall.
The Buddha is seated with the palm of his right hand extended forward. This is one of the main five gestures of the hands in Buddha statues and means "fear not" and “conversion of jealousy and envy into all-accomplishing wisdom.”



Great Buddha Hall.
The Daibutsu is made of copper and bronze, weighs 250 tons and stands 30 meters tall. His intricate hairstyle is made of 966 bronze balls.
In early August, dozens of young monks neatly dressed in white climb on the Buddha or hang from ropes tied to the ceiling to dust and wipe the huge statue using colorful dusters.



Great Buddha Hall



Great Buddha Hall - Lotus plant



Great Buddha Hall - Lotus plant  ... Note butterflies: next illustration below:



Great Buddha Hall - Butterfly


Great Buddha Hall



Great Buddha Hall - Eggs and flowers, examples of daily offerings




Great Buddha Hall - Lotus



Great Buddha Hall



Great Buddha Hall - Note bronze behind the statue: next illustration below:


Great Buddha Hall - behind the Buddha statue



Komokuten, one of the pair of Guardians of the Four Directions (west).
Four details below:



Detail - Komokuten, one of the pair of Guardians of the Four Directions



Detail - Komokuten, one of the pair of Guardians of the Four Directions



Detail - Komokuten, one of the pair of Guardians of the Four Directions



Detail - Komokuten, one of the pair of Guardians of the Four Directions






Tamonten/Bishamonten, Guardian of the North, one of the Shitennō or Guardians of the Four Directions. Tamonten and Kōmokuten (Guardian of the West) are the only two Shitennō depicted in the Daibutsuden.



Detail - Tamonten/Bishamonten, Guardian of the North



Detail - Tamonten/Bishamonten, Guardian of the North



Avenue of the Lanterns



Avenue of the Lanterns



Barrels of sake offerings wrapped in straw



Photos and their arrangement 2013 Chuck LaChiusa
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