Friday, 18 April 2008

Day 9 Part 3 - Nara (奈良) Toudaiji (東大寺) Daibutsuden (大仏殿)

Daibutsuden (大仏殿) which houses the huge bronze statue of the Great Buddha, is apparently the largest wooden structure in the world. The original was even bigger, but perished in a fire, the current building (constructed in the 18th century) is only two thirds of the former size, but still impressively large:

The octagonal lantern (八角灯篭) is supposed one of the earliest artefacts dating back from the original construction of the temple, which by the way costs so much money to build it made a severe dent to the Japanese economy for several years. The structure next to it is the water house (手水屋):

Looking up at the main entrance I marveled at the intricacies of the design of the wooden building:

Inside, it is very dark and I really struggled to take good photographs:

The Great Buddha is supposedly the largest bronze statue in Japan, though not the largest statue of the Buddha in Japan - the largest is the the Ushiku Great Buddha (牛久大仏) apparently 120m tall in the Ibaraki Peninsula. The Great Buddha has suffered over the years - the head fell off in an earthquake and the hand melted away in a fire:

On both sides of the giant statue, are two smaller golden states that are also very impressive:

Replica of the lotus leaves at the base of the Buddha statue showing the incredible detail in the casting:

This is a bell that can be rung by visitors as part of their worship - whilst we were there, a few kids rang it several times before they were scolded:

This is Koumokuten (廣目天), one of the four Heavenly Kings (四天王) protecting the Buddha - one on each compass direction. Koumokuten is traditionally placed west of the Buddha. Koumokuten translates roughly as "wide-eyed/limitless vision" and can see through any evil:

The other Heavenly King on the northern end of the building is Tamonten (多聞天) - the most powerful of the Kings and traditionally the Lord of the other Kings. Tamonten roughly translates as "Big ears/limitless hearing" so he knows everything:

There also seem to be remnants of broken sculptures - may explain why two of the Heavenly Kings are missing (no wonder the Great Buddha has suffered a few mishaps - he's not being protected on all sides!):

In front of Tamonken is a pillar with lots of people crowding around it:

There is a hole through the base of the pillar, and a long line of mostly kids queuing up for an opportunity to crawl through the hole. Apparently anyone who successfully squeezed past the hole will gain enlightenment in their next life. Since the hole is not that big, the only people brave enough to try it are schoolchildren and young girls. This one just managed to get through with the help of her friends:

At the back of the hall is a miniature replica of the original buildings in the Toudaiji in the eighth century - unfortunately nearly all of these buildings have since been destroyed by fire and earthquake:

A replica of the current Daibutsuden:

And this is a replica of the original, larger, Daibutsuden:

The souvenir shop was popular:

And it's possible to buy cute deer toys:

A large selection of masks for sale:

Back to the outside:

No comments:

Post a Comment