Tokyobling's Blog

Todaiji Statues – Nara

Posted in Places by tokyobling on May 19, 2014

One of the greatest tourist attractions in Japan is the Nara Daibutsu, a huge buddha statue housed in the famous temple of Todaiji in Nara City, Nara Prefecture. Apart from the big statue itself there are plenty of smaller statues scattered around the main hall of the temple. The atmosphere is fantastic, air thick with incense smoke, prayers bells and the sunlight filtering in through the high windows. Well, at least if you go off season and on a weekday. Weekends and high season tends to get quite crowded especially recently with the absolute boom in overseas tourism.

There is statuary of all kinds of materials, millennium old wood carvings, bronzes and clay to name a few materials. If you have the opportunity to visit, spare a few minutes for the “other” art treasures of the Todaiji!

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Nara Daibutsu – Big Buddha

Posted in Places by tokyobling on October 8, 2013

One of the most tourist friendly cities in Japan is Nara, famous for its many deers, huge parks, massive temples and last but certainly not least, the Daibutsu, the big Buddha statue at the Todaiji temple. The main temple building was constructed in the 8th century A.D., but it has been rebuilt twice du to fires. The present structure is from 1709 and it was the largest wooden building in the world until 1998. Unfortunately none of these photos gives any hint of how large the statue really is, but at 15m he is similar in height to a normal four storey building. Next time I will make sure I have enough time there to get some decent photos!

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Nigatsudo – Nara

Posted in Places by tokyobling on May 1, 2013

On the slopes of Mount Wakakusa in Nara you’ll find the Nigatsudo (二月堂), one of the auxiliary tamples of the great Taodaiji (where you’ll find the great buddha of Nara). It was built in 752 but the original building burned down in 1667, so the present building is only about 350 years old. The main building of the temple holds two large buddha statues but as these “hibutsu”, or secret buddha, they are never shown to the public. On the 12th of March every year the temple holds a large service that I have yet to see in person.

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Mud and Moss – Toshodaiji

Posted in Japanese Traditions, Places by tokyobling on March 3, 2013

I took these photos of the mud and moss that makes up the foundations of the fantastic Toshodaiji (唐招提寺) outside of Nara, one of Japan’s ancient capitals. The temple’s history stretches back to 759 AD when the founding letters were written, but when I visited late last summer I was most struck by the fantastic layer of moss and the thick mud and reused tile walls that partition the different sections of the temple grounds. There is something essential in how the woodland parts of the temple grounds have turned into the thin trees with a thick canopy and the almost bare undergrowth with the thick moss, it looks more like a designed room than the natural space it is. It must have taken great patience to let nature create something like this! The walls are also wonderful examples of patience, mud, gravel and old tiles are reused to create thick massive walls that would stand up to almost anything, except the rain, eventually wearing the walls down to the earth it came from. I am sure when that happens, someone will be around to pick up the old tiles and start building a new wall, a very slow cycle of life. Besides, these tiles that are used in the wall were probably recycled already hundreds of years ago. Who knows in what century someone took the trouble to firing them? Or even in what millennia?

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