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Todai-ji Temple

Only got room for one temple on your itinerary? Make it Todaiji.

Before Kyoto and Tokyo were even thought of – Nara used to be the Big Apple of ancient Japan. Todaiji dates back to this period (752 to be exact), aptly named the Nara period (700~) making it over 1,200 years old. So if you’re only going to see one temple on your travels, it may as well be one of the most famous and oldest in Japan.

After surviving earthquakes, fires and political mayhem – Todai-ji became the most influential Buddhist temple in Japan. Its 15-meter-tall giant Buddha and band of dedicated followers led to its rock star-like influence becoming too much for people. So much so that it was the main reason that Japan’s capital was moved away from Nara.

The Buddha’s hand is as tall as a (tall) person.

Is it really such a big deal today though? The answer is a resounding “yes.” People are still flocking to Todai-ji to visit the Daibutsuden (Big Buddha Hall) housed in the world’s oldest wooden structure. The exterior is extraordinarily beautiful in its serene symmetry; step inside and crane your neck to look up at the giant bronze statue – an undeniably spiritual experience.

As you approach the Nandaimon Gate, you’ll notice flocks of sacred deer that happily frolic around the inner grounds. These ridiculously cute creatures have themselves become an icon of Nara, famous for eating senbei out of unsuspecting tourist’s hands and then chasing them when they’ve run out.

Things To Know

Entrance Fees

For those wanting to visit the museum or the Great Buddha Hall, it’s ¥500 separately or ¥800 for a joint ticket.

How To Get There


東大寺 大仏殿, Zōshichō, Nara-shi, Nara-ken 630-8211, Japan

By bus

From either station there are several buses that will take you to Todaiji Daibutsuden bus stop. Todaiji’s main building is a 5 to 10-minute walk from here. For more information, please check out the Nara Bus Info website: http://www.narakotsu.co.jp/language/en/noriba/index.html

By foot

Todaiji is located at the northern end of Nara Park. If you feel energized, why not take the 30-minute stroll from Kintetsu Nara or the 45-minute walk from Nara Station? If it sounds a bit too much (we get it), you can also take the bus from either station.

Where To Stay

Shisui Luxury Collection Hotel Nara
  • 62 Noboriojicho, Nara-shi, Nara, 630-8213 Japan
  • ¥69,449 - ¥343,828
  • 0.6 km
Sarusawaike Yoshidaya
  • 246 Takabatakecho, Nara-shi, Nara, 630-8301 Japan
  • ¥18,700 - ¥18,700
  • 4.32/5 (370 reviews)
  • 1.1 km
Bakery Hotel Chateau D'or
  • 15 Higashimuki Kitamachi, Nara-shi, Nara, 630-8214 Japan
  • ¥2,470 - ¥29,000
  • 4.46/5 (280 reviews)
  • 1.1 km
Fufu Nara
  • 1184-1 Takabatakecho, Nara-shi, Nara, 630-8301 Japan
  • ¥102,900 - ¥190,400
  • 4.67/5 (64 reviews)
  • 1.2 km
Hotel Tenpyo Naramachi
  • 1-1 Taruicho, Nara-shi, Nara, 630-8218 Japan
  • ¥14,805 - ¥44,460
  • 4.45/5 (155 reviews)
  • 1.2 km

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