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Nara Feature 6: Toshodaiji

Note: This Feature was made on October 10, 2001, as I visited the Yamato Area of old Japan. (MAP)


Toshodaiji is one of the many temples located on Nara's quieter west side. It is between the Tomb of Emperor Suinin and Yakushiji. A walk down this road evokes the past in a way that few places can. You can read about my visit to Nara in my Logbook.

Toshodaiji is one of the greats--or will be. The main hall is under reconstruction, which is expected to be finished in 2009! I have seen some of its treasures in Tokyo; it's common practice to tour a temple's holdings while the buildings are under repair.

Mainly I remember the statue of Saint Ganjin, or Kakai-Taishi, the founder of this temple. It's one of the eeriest statues I've ever seen. He was a blind Chinese priest invited to come here and teach Buddhist precepts; he died in 763.

[Weird 2019 Update: From 2007-2008, I lived at Damingsi, the temple from which Ganjin--called in China Jianzhen--was called to Japan. In fact, I was an administrator at the Jianzhen Institute, a Buddhist college. The picture above is of a replica of the one in Japan, presented to the temple s a sign of cooperation.]

Anyway, despite the repair work, the grounds are beautiful. Here's a quick look.

The Nandai-mon or "Great Southern Gate."

The Kodo or "Lecture Hall." Great statues inside.

The Honganden. I have no idea what it means, but it sure is purdy, ain't it?

The Koro, or drum tower. The lovely gray building behind it is the sheathing around the main hall. You can watch the workman through windows in the front, as well as view a video with Computer Graphics of the finished product.

Posted October 6, 2019

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