Soul of the Garden

Images of Japan: Todai-ji, Nara

The Todai-ji temple complex was created in the seventh century as a symbol of the ascendancy of Buddhism in Japan. It is truly enormous and appropriately enough, it houses the world's largest wooden building, the Daibutsu-den or Great Buddha Hall. Inside of the Daibutsu-den is a fifty-three foot tall statue of the seated Buddha. It is said that when the statue is being cleaned five people can stand in the Buddha's upturned palm. You can easily spend half of a day in the Todai-ji complex. Be sure to wander up the hill to the right of the Daibutsu-den to visit the Ni-gatsu-do sub-temple, here you can enjoy a view out over Nara Koen and perhaps hear the chanting of  Buddhist monks from buildings further up the hillside.

A tour guide with a group of young students at the gates of Todai-ji. The Daibutsu-den can be seen rising in the distance.


Along the main walkway from the gate to the Daibutsu-den you glimpse beautiful gardens over the walls. I believe these are sub-temples or perhaps,the living quarters of the monks.


The courtyard of the Kaidan-in sub-temple with its unusual karesansui or dry garden.


Another view.


I love the little details of these places.


A wide view of the Daibutsu-den. Note the size of the people on its portico. This place is enormous.


Another view of the Daibutsu-den.


Lighting incense as part of a purifying ritual - the smoke is thought to be cleansing.


A carved wooden head inside the Daibutsu-den (probably about eight-ten feet tall!)


One of the smaller Buddha statues that flank the great Buddha.


The great Buddha (a little shaky, it was dark in there!)


Students at the door of the Daibutsu-den. There were groups of students at all of the major historical sights everywhere we went in Japan.


Another wide view of the Daibutsu-den.


A dragon fountain with water for the purifying ritual at Ni-gatsu-do.


Amazing detail.


Are those deer antlers?


The cup used for the ritual.


At the Ni-gatsu-do temple.


Monks descending the hillside above Ni-gatsu-do.


A little closer.


Note the traditional sandals on the left.


The view from Ni-gatsu-do.


A temple visitor.

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