Beautiful Massive Religious Art at Todai-ji Temple in Nara

Japan always seems to be about biggest, best, newest. It ranks its tourist destinations, foods, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. There's a chain of stores called RanKing RanQueen, which is dedicated to selling only the currently most popular items - and they'll tell you what they are when you're in the store, too. "Number 1!" Oh, so everyone's drinking this soda? Or wearing this lipstick? Okay, thanks.

When it comes to travel, there are numerous top three lists, including some very famous ones. Todai-ji is on one of those lists, the Top Three Famous Big Buddhas (Daibutsu). 
 It's one of the first temples you'll visit once you enter Nara Park. Just walk through the massive gate, called Nandai-mon.
 Be sure to look left and right as you pass through the gate. You'll see a couple guardians.
 You approach another gate, but you have to go off to the side to actually enter the complex.
 Wow, that building is huge! This is the Daibutsu-den, which houses the famous Daibutsu and four other giant statues.
 Can you see the people in the photo? This is said to be the largest wooden building in the world, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 The building itself is beautiful, and obviously massive.
 That doesn't look so big!
 I assure you that the massive building makes this statue look much smaller in the photos, and must be seen to be believed. I don't think it's the largest; the Kamakura Daibutsu is extremely large and can be entered.
 The large statue has one statue on either side of it. This is the one to the left, called Kokuuzobosatsu.
 Here's the next large statue in the building, another guardian called Koumokuten.
 The second guardian in the building, named Tamonten.
 In the back-right corner of the building is a pillar with a small hole carved in the bottom. Passing through the hole is said to bring enlightenment, though mostly only children can fit. I guess enlightenment is only for the young. On busy days, the line to pass through will be quite long. On my visit, people would squeeze through as much as possible just to take a photo, then squeeze back out the way they came. Does that count as passing through?
 You can see the fourth statue, sitting to the right of the big Daibutsu, which is a partner of the similar statue. Niyorinkannon is the name.

The last thing you'll come to is a well-stocked souvenir shop; they sell good luck charms and trinkets for the faithful and touristy. Be sure to turn around and say goodbye to the statues before you leave, though, to be sure to have a good impression!
Just outside and to the right of the doors is one more statue. This is Yakushi Nyorai, a Buddha of medicine and healing. Touching the statue and then the same spot on your own body is supposed to heal any illnesses or ailments you have at that point on your body. If you have a sore neck, touch the image's neck and then your own.
Todai-ji is open 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM in the summer, with somewhat shorter hours in fall, winter, and early spring. Admission is 500 yen. You can get there from Kintetsu Nara Station by heading straight toward Nara Park. Go past the National Museum and turn left at the next light. The street in that direction appears to be permanently closed to vehicles. You should see the first gate straight ahead, possibly after walking a little ways due to the tree cover.

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