In 728, the Emperor Shomu, who placed great importance upon Buddhism, founded Todai-ji Temple, now inscribed as a World Cultural Heritage Site. It is a head temple, ruling the other 68 Kokubun-ji temples (branch temples) scattered throughout the country, and it is said that it was called “Himugashi-no-Odera,” or “large temple in the east,” because it was located to the east of the then-capital, Heijo-kyo. Nara-koen Park is located in the center of the city of Nara, extending about 4 kilometers from east to west, and about 2 kilometers from south to north. Many deer graze along the spacious lawns and frolic on the grass.
Inside the park area are Todai-ji Temple, Kofuku-ji Temple, Kasuga-taisha Shrine and many other historic structures that represent the glory of the city over many centuries. The image of great temple roofs and the tips of tall pagodas peeking through the trees will be an unforgettable memory of your journey to Nara. Small streams and ponds add charm to the scenery.
Daibutsu-den (Great Buddha Hall) is 57 mt. long and 50 mt. wide, making it the world’s largest wooden structure. The hall enshrines a huge statue of the great Buddha. Weighing approximately 300 tons and standing some 15 meters tall, it is the largest Buddha statue in the world.
The precincts of the temple offer many interesting spots for tourists including: the Nan-dai-mon (the Great Southern Gate), on which you can see two images of Kongo Rikishi (King Deva) which are over 8 meters tall; the Nigatsu-do Hall, which is surrounded by a stage-like corridor overlooking the Daibutsu-den and the city of Nara; and the Sangatsu-do Hall, the oldest wooden structure standing in the Todai-ji Temple precincts, which shows the artistic sculptures from the 8th century.
The trek to the top of Mt. Wakakusa-yama, at 342 meters above sea level, is a good form of exercise that you can easily enjoy inside the city. From the hilltop you will be treated to a magnificent panoramic view of the Nara Basin. The night view is also panoramic.