Toshodaiji Temple


Toshodaji temple has one of the most modest structure across Nara but it is still proud to appear in the list of 9 constructions of Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara which designated as a World Heritage Site, thanks for such of the meaning it has contributed to the history as well as the growth of Buddhism in Japan. The temple is nearly a symbol for the enduring and steady attempt of both missionaries and receivers in process of Buddhism from the main land China to Japan. Considered as the very first temple in Japan to be devoted to the Chinese Buddhist sect Nanzan, nowadays, Toshodaiji is the head temple of apan’s Ritsu-shu sect of Buddhist teachings


As the long story about the establishment of Toshodaiji began, it was about the year 759 that the Emperor donated the former residence of Emperor Tenmu’s son, Prince Neetabay Shin-no to construct the temple, and also assigned the priest Ganjin to take the responsibility of building the temple. Even in the late years of his life, Ganjin accepted the invitation of the Emperor to be teacher of the Chinese Buddhist precepts in Japan. However, there was an other story even longer than this one, telling the way Ganjin had tried to bring Buddhism into Japan. Ganjin at that time was a high priest at Daimeiji Temple in China. Continuously throughout 12 years, Ganjin had 5 times crossing the ocean, trying to approach Nara but he failed at all. This period of time was truely a long and stormy journey in both literal and figurative sense as it stole his eyesight away before he arrived in Nara in 754.


Presently, Toshodaiji are housing an impressive collection of 17 National Treasures and more than 200 Important Cultural Properties typical of the Japanese Tempyo Era culture of the 8th Century. The Southern Great Gate Nandai-mon was rebuilt in 1963 to commemorate the 1200- year anniversary of Abbot Ganjin’s death. The main hall Kondo of more than 1200 years old is an one storied building with a row of pillars like the Parthenon of Greece, covering 7 bays by a sloping tiled roof, protecting statues of a seated Rushana Buddha flanked by standing images of Yakushi Tathagata and a Thousand Armed Avalokitesvara. The whole construction is an outstanding example of early Japanese Buddhist architecture.


Source: Photohito

An other attraction is the lecture hall Kodo which served as an assembly and lecture hall for all the surrounding temples during the 8th Century. Koro lying between the Kondo and Kodo is the only multi-storied building at Toshodaiji, famous as the stage for the Uchiwamaki, a fan scattering ceremony of reverence toward Abbot Kak-joh on May 19th. The building is also believed to hold ashes of the historical Buddha brought to Japan by Ganjin.

Open time: 

From 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. Last entry at 4:30 pm.


-Adult: 600 yen

-High school and Junior High school student: 400 yen

-Primary school student: 200 yen

How to access: 
-Take a Kintetsu Nara Line to Yamato-Saidaiji Station from Kintetsu Nara Station and change to the Kintetsu Kashihara Line on platform 6.
-From JR Nara Station and Kintetsu Nara Station take buses No.70 or 72 then get off at the Toshodaiji bus stop, or bus No.97 and get off at Toshodaiji-higashiguchi.