There are many amazing things about Tōdai-ji and the Daibutsuden or 'Great Buddha Hall' in Nara, Japan: the gigantic bronze Buddha, which nearly bankrupted Japan to build in 751, or the fact that this massive Buddha sits in the worlds largest wooden building, (once even larger as the current incarnation is only 70% of what the original was), or the ancient treasures such as a octagonal lamp from the 700s, or the healing pillars, which if one can squeeze through, they are said to be guaranteed a place in heaven, but the most surprising sight at the temple, is the deer.
Known as Sika Deer, they wander through the temples, sleep in corners, and generally stand around as tourists take their pictures. Once considered sacred messengers of the Shinto gods, and protected, they were later hunted to near extinction. Though they have been variously protected and hunted throughout their history in Japan, their population is strong today, and many have become tame and established themselves in cities and touristy areas, feeding from the hands of delighted visitors. They are even known to come up and bite visitors gently on the buttocks signaling that they desire crackers and they will steal bags from the unwitting.
Despite having been damaged and destroyed multiple times, due to fire, earthquakes and accident (in 855 the head of the giant Buddha suddenly fell off) both the buildings and the statues have been continually repaired and today Tōdai-ji, or the Great Eastern Temple complex, and the Daibutsuden or 'Great Buddha Hall' it contains are in excellent shape.
The entryway to the temple is behemoth, with two towering guardians on each side, protecting the great Buddha. The Buddha itself, the world's largest statue of the Buddha Vairocana (or Birushana in Japananese) is seen as the universal aspect of the Buddha, a sort of all in one Buddha. The statue weighs some 500 tonnes and is a towering 14.98 meters (49.1 ft) tall, with a 5.33 meter (17.5 ft) long face. His hair is made of 966 individual bronze balls, and creating this massive bronze Buddha in the 700s occupied much of
Japan's bronze production for many years.
Inside the massive temple, there were numerous artifacts to observe beyond the Great Buddha. One can learn the history of the building and area surrounding. As Nara was once the capital of Japan, there was much intriguing history to digest. Among the many things to see are miniature replicas of the temple and the grounds, various Buddhist statues, and the (somewhat unfair to the overweight) healing pillars, wooden columns with a hole in the bottom that brings good luck, or you reach enlightenment in your lifetime and others even say entrance to heaven, if you can squeeze through it.