Toshodaiji temple [唐招提寺]
Toshodaiji is a Buddhist temple, and is located about 3.5 km west of JR Nara station.
Both "o"s in the word are pronounced long, so it is read as "Tôshoôdaiji".
This temple is one of 9 constructions of "Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara" designated as a World Heritage Site.
This temple was founded in 759 by high priest Ganjin (688-763).
Ganjin was the famous high priest in Tang (current China).
In 742, two Japanese students of priest staying in Tang requested him to introduce some priests to teach Buddhism in Japan.
But crossing the sea from China to Japan was the dangerous adventure at that time, so no priest agreed.
Finally, Ganjin himself decided to go Japan.
But the travel to Japan had failed five times, because of shipwreck or obstruction by opponents.
At last, the sixth trial succeeded in 753.
But the Japanese students had already died, and Ganjin had become blind.
The next year, he arrived at Nara, and taught at Todaiji temple.
He was given the site of current temple from Emperor, and founded Toshodaiji in 759.
Then, four years later, Ganjin died in Toshodaiji.
A student of him created a statue of Ganjin.
It is said that the statue is the Japan's oldest image sculpture, and is designated as a national treasure.
The precinct is about 350 meters from east to west and about 250 meters from north to south.
There are many buildings in the precincts.
Kondo (金堂) is the central building.
It was built in the 8th century and is designated as a national treasure.
Three large Buddha statues and six other statues are enshrined in the hall, and all of them are designated as national treasures.
Koudo (講堂) is to the north of Kondo.
It is built around 760 and is also designated as a national treasure.
There are many Buddha statues in Koudo, and a few of them are designated as national treasures.
There is Mieido (御影堂) in the north part of the precinct.
Statue of Ganjin is enshrined in Mieido.
Most of the other buildings built in the 13th to 17th centuries are also designated as national treasures or important cultural properties.
How to get here
By route bus, get on the route bus for Rokujoyama at JR Nara station, and get off at Toshodaiji stop.
It takes about 17 minutes.
Or, by Kintestsu Railway, get off at Nishinokyo station of Kashihara Line.
About 10 minutes walk from there.