Lit. "Great Eastern Temple". A famous Buddhist temple complex first established by Emperor Shoumu in 743, located in . It is a World Heritage site, part of the seven "Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara", and many of its temples and other structures are listed as National Treasures of Japan. Its Daibutsuden (大仏殿), or Great Buddha Hall, houses a sixteen-meter-high (52-foot) bronze statue of (also known as Daibutsu) and is reportedly the largest wooden building in the world. Deer roam the grounds freely.
The statue of , which is the largest in Japan, has been recast several times, and the Daibutsuden has been rebuilt twice after fire, with the current building finished in 1709 after it was burned down during the -Miyoshi conflict in 1567. The two 28-foot guardian at the Great Southern Gate temple entrance were dismantled and repaired by two teams of 13 and 12 art experts from 1988 to 1991? 1993?.
The surrounding gardens and temples are today considered part of the Toudai templex complex.
Other structures of the temple complex listed as National Treasures of Japan are:
- Nandai-mon (南大門)—Great Southern Gate: destroyed by a hurricane in 962, rebuilt in 1199 according to an architectural style used in the Chinese Song dynasty.
- Kaizan-dou (開山堂)—Hall of the Founder: a temple built to house the wooden image of the first chief abbot, created in the 9th century. Its inner sanctuary was built in 1200, its nave built in 1250.
- Shourou (鐘楼)—Bell Tower: built in the beginning of the 13th century, the Bell Tower houses a temple bell cast in 752 and was the largest of its kind until the Middle Ages.
- Hokke-dou/Sangatsu-dou (法華堂/三月堂)—Hall of the Flowering Dharma/Hall of the Third Month: this temple stands on the eastern side of the compound at the base of the Wakakusa Mountain Range. It is one of the few structures remaining from the and is thought to have been completed in 743. A dozen or so statues of buddhas are enshrined in this temple. Its principle buddha is .
- Nigatsu-dou (二月堂)—Hall of the Second Month: a temple named after the sacred water-drawing ceremony, a type of Buddhist mass, held in the second month of the lunar calendar. The temple was burned down from a fire set accidentally during one of these rites in 1667 and was rebuilt 2 years later. The temple houses two eleven-faced Goddesses of Mercy called the Large Goddess of Mercy (Oogannon—大観音) and the Small Goddess of Mercy (Kogannon—小観音). No one is allowed to look upon these mysterious goddesses. The temple itself was named a National Treasure in December, 2005.
- Tegai-mon (転害門)—Revolving Evil Gate: an eight-foot gate which stands in the north-west of the compound, one of the few structures that escaped both the battle-fire of Taira no Shigehira in 1180 and the Miyoshi- conflict in 1567. It was repaired in the , but is still fundamentally the structure as it was built in the .