Tōdai Temple


Tōdai Temple
Japanese Tōdai-ji

Monumental temple of the Kegon sect of Japanese Buddhism, located in Nara, Japan.

The main buildings were constructed in 745–752 under the emperor Shōmu, marking the adoption of Buddhism as a state religion. The Great Buddha Hall, built within a 2-sq-mi (5-sq-km) enclosure, measured about 288 by 169 ft (88 by 52 m) and, as restored today, is the largest wooden building in the world. The 53-ft (16-m) Great Sun Buddha was installed in 752. The Shōsōin is a repository for more than 9,000 works of art from the Nara period and more than 600 personal effects of Shōmu.

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Japanese  Tōdai-ji 

      (“Great Eastern Temple”), monumental Japanese temple and centre of the Kegon sect of Japanese Buddhism, located in Nara. The main buildings were constructed between AD 745 and 752 under the emperor Shōmu and marked the adoption of Buddhism as a state religion. The temple was the largest and most powerful monastery in Japan during the Nara period (710–784). The Daibutsu (Great Buddha) Hall was built in the centre of a vast enclosure of some 2 square miles (5 square km) with gates, pagodas, subsidiary buildings, and colonnades. It was an enormous wooden building measuring some 288 by 169 feet (88 by 52 m) in ground plan. It housed a colossal seated bronze statue, the Daibutsu (Great Buddha), of Birushana Butsu (Vairocana), originally some 53 feet (16 m) high. The original building was destroyed in 1180, and the present Daibutsu Hall dates from the early 18th century. The building was renovated between 1974 and 1980; with a length of 187 feet (57 m), a width of 165 feet (50 m), and a height of 155 feet (47 m), it is still the largest wooden building in the world. The bronze statue has also undergone extensive restorations, the last of which was completed in 1692.

      Among the three surviving structures of the Tōdai Temple is the Shōsō House, the main repository for the temple's most precious objects. The largest of the temple's repositories—and the sole extant example—it is a huge structure built on 40 pillars that are 8 feet (2.4 m) high. The main structure supported by them, 107 by 30 feet (33 by 9 m), is 46 feet (14 m) high and is covered with a hipped ridge roof of tiles; the front and two sides consist of timbers, triangular in cross section, laid horizontally one over another, giving a corrugated appearance. The Shōsō House treasure—the nucleus of which is a collection of more than 600 personal objects belonging to the emperor Shōmu—consists of about 9,020 works of fine and decorative art, which provide an eloquent picture of court life of the Nara period. The Shōsō House is not open to the public, but each autumn a selection of its treasures (all of which are now stored in fireproof concrete repositories) is put on display.

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Universalium. 2010.

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