OWL Magazine Korea

Nara Park, World’s Largest Bronze Statue “Todai-ji”

In Nara, you can encounter the world’s largest bronze statue at Todai-ji’s Daibutsuden. This colossal statue, measuring 15 meters in height and weighing approximately 450 tons, is enshrined as the world’s largest bronze statue. Todai-ji was established in 752 by Priest Gyoki, a descendant of the Baekje Kingdom, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Buddhism in Japan. The construction, led by craftsmen from Baekje, involved the labor of over 2.6 million people, nearly half of the population at the time, gathered from across the country.

“Todai-ji, Where You Can See the World’s Largest Bronze Statue”

The erection of such a large statue at Todai-ji was believed to counteract the instability of the times, compounded by diseases, famines, and wars. The present Daibutsuden was reconstructed in 1709 after two fires. Although the restored building is only two-thirds of its original size, it remains the world’s largest wooden structure.

The impressive path leading to Daibutsuden, called the Daibutsu-den, is lined with parallel rows of stone lanterns. It offers an overwhelming experience in the face of its immense scale.

“The Southern Gate (Nandaimon) Leading to the Bronze Statue”

At the entrance to Todai-ji, you’ll find the Southern Gate. This gate, the largest Sanmon in Japan, was constructed in 1203 and features protective deities on both sides. The current structure was rebuilt during the Heian era after collapsing in a typhoon and reconstructed during the Kamakura era.

The national treasure protective deities placed on both sides of the Southern Gate are pronounced “A” and “Un” in Japanese. This signifies the beginning and end in Sanskrit, symbolizing the start and finish of the universe.

“The Stone Path Leading to Daibutsuden, Pilgrimage Path”

The stone path leading from the Southern Gate to Daibutsuden consists of five rows of stones. The central row is from India, the two outer rows on each side are from China, and the outermost two rows are from Korea. Around the pilgrimage path, you can also encounter deer. The path is populated with numerous deer, creating a scene where deer and people coexist.

“Daibutsuden, Daibutsu-den”

Daibutsuden, the Great Buddha Hall, is the main hall of Todai-ji, where the colossal bronze statue is enshrined. The statue represents Vairocana, known as “Birushana-butsu” in Japanese, emitting a bright light like the sun to convey enlightenment. It was cast in the mid-8th century by Emperor Shomu, who melted down tons of silver and copper from across the country. The statue has suffered destruction and damage due to fires and earthquakes, and the current one was cast in 1692, preserving three-quarters of its original size.

To the left of the Great Buddha, there is a Kokujo Bosatsu statue, and to the right, there is a Nyoirin Kannon statue, both from the 18th century Edo period. Every August 7th, around 120 individuals ascend to the Great Buddha to dust it off.

“Admission Fee for Todai-ji”

To appreciate Todai-ji, an admission fee is required. For individual adults, the fee is 600 yen, which is approximately 6,000 won. Considering the immense size of the statue, paying this fee for the viewing experience seems reasonable. Additionally, knowing that craftsmen from Baekje contributed to the construction adds extra significance.

“After Appreciating Daibutsuden, a Nice Place to Explore Together”

After appreciating Todai-ji’s Daibutsuden, there are nice places to explore together. You can enjoy the pond in front of Todai-ji, and by moving a bit east, you’ll find “Sangatsudo” and “Nigatsudo,” also within Todai-ji’s grounds. Since these two places are free to enter, unlike Todai-ji’s Daibutsuden, many visitors tend to leave after seeing only Daibutsuden. However, taking the time to explore these additional spots can be worthwhile. Climbing to the top of Nigatsudo and looking down at Nara cityscape is particularly charming.

“Nara, Nara Park, Todai-ji”

  • Address: 406-1 Zoshicho, Nara, 630-8211, Japan
  • Phone Number: +81742225511
  • Website: Todai-ji Official Website
  • Operating Hours: 7:30 – 17:30