Nara (奈良市) is the capital city of Nara Prefecture in the Kansai region of Japan. The city occupies the northern part of Nara Prefecture, directly bordering itself to Kyoto Prefecture.  Seven temples, shrines and ruins in Nara, specifically Tōdai-ji, Saidai-ji, Kōfuku-ji, Kasuga Shrine, Gangō-ji, Yakushi-ji, Tōshōdai-ji and Heijō Palace Remains, together with Kasugayama Primeval Forest, collectively form "Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara", a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Nara was the capital of Japan from 710 to 784, giving its name to Nara period.  The original city, Heijō-kyō, was modeled after the capital of Tang Dynasty China, Chang'an (present-day Xi'an).  According to the ancient Japanese book, Nihon Shoki, the name "Nara" derived from the Japanese word narashita meaning "made flat".

The temples of Nara remained powerful even beyond the move of the political capital to Heian-kyō in 794, thus giving Nara a synonym of Nanto (lit. meaning "South Capital") as opposed to Heian-kyō, situated in the North.

Tōdai-ji (東大寺) (meaning the Eastern Great Temple), is a Buddhist temple complex located in the city of Nara, Japan.  Its Great Buddha Hall (大仏殿 Daibutsuden), reputedly the largest wooden building in the world, houses a colossal bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana, known in Japanese simply as the Daibutsu (大仏).  The temple also serves as the Japanese headquarters of the Kegon school of Buddhism.  The temple is a listed UNESCO World Heritage site as "Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara," together with seven other sites including temples, shrine and place in the city of Nara.  Sika deer, regarded as messengers of the gods in the Shinto religion, roam the grounds freely.

The beginning of building a temple in where the huge Tōdai-ji complex sits on today can be dated back to 728, when Emperor Shōmu has established Kinshōsen-ji (金鐘山寺) as an appease for Prince Motoi, his first son between his Fujiwara clan consort Kōmyōshi. Prince Motoi died only after a year from his birth.

During the Tempyō era, the people, and the Emperor suffered from disasters and epidemics.  It was after having experienced the waves of troubles, that Emperor Shōmu issued an edict in 741 to promote the construction of Provincial temples throughout the nation.  Tōdai-ji (still Kinshōsen-ji at the time) was appointed as the Provincial temple of Yamato Province, and the head of all the Provincial temples.  With the alleged coup d'etat by Nagaya in 729, the smallpox at around 735-737, worsened by consecutive years of poor crops, then followed by a rebellion led by Fujiwara no Hirotsugu in 740.

In 743, Emperor Shōmu issued a law in which he stated that the people should proactively be involved into the making of the new Buddha to protect themselves.  He believed Buddha's power could help the people.  Gyōki, with his pupils, had traveled provinces asking for donations.  According to records kept by Tōdai-ji, more than 2,600,000 people in total helped construct the Great Buddha and its Hall.  The 16 m (52 ft) high statue was built through eight castings over three years, the head and neck being cast together as a separate shell 12 feet high.  The making of the statue has started first in Shigaraki.  After having met multiple casualties as fires and earthquakes, the construction was eventually resumed in Nara in 745, and the Buddha was finally completed in 751.  A year later, in 752, the eye-opening ceremony was held with an attendance of 10,000 people to celebrate the completion of the Buddha.  The Indian priest Bodhisena performed the eye-opening for Emperor Shōmu.

In 754, ordination was given by Ganjin, who arrived in Japan after overcoming hardships over 12 years and 6 attempts of crossing the sea from China, to Empress Kōken, former Emperor Shōmu and others.  In spite of Emperor Shōmu's original wish, however, having consumed most of Japan's bronze production for several years the country was left almost bankrupt.

The statue has been recast several times since for various reasons including earthquake damage, and the Daibutsuden rebuilt twice after fire.  The current hands of the statue were made in the Momoyama Period (1568-1615), and the head was made in the Edo Period (1615-1867).  The current building finished in 1709 although immense is actually 30% smaller than its predecessor.  The original complex also contained two 100 m pagodas, probably the tallest buildings in the world at the time behind the pyramids.  These were destroyed by earthquake.

A cool looking tree and vines.

More deer!

A pretty pond and waterfall area.

More cherry trees blossoming.

The World Heritage plaque for Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara, in particular Tadai-ji

A map of the Nara Park area.

The main gate to Todai-ji, Nandaimon.

You can see the roof of Todai-ji through the gate entrance.

The deer here were much more friendly and docile than in Miyajima.

One of two large statues located in the main gate.

The other statue.

These were huge pillars!

It's so big!

The people look so small.

There I am in the far left door to give you an idea of the hugeness of this thing!

The large Buddha Vairocana, known in Japanese simply as the Daibutsu (大仏).

A lotus blossom from around the bottom of Buddha.

These step were straight up! It would be like climbing a ladder way up there.

More big statues.

A model of the original temple and two 5 story pagodas.

The hole is as big as Buddha's notril. It's supposed to be good luck if you can fit through. The line was long and it looked like a tight fit.

More pretty cherry blossoms.

A pretty waterfall and pond area.

Some purple flowers on a tree, very beautiful.

This had a big bell inside.

Me and the bell.

One of the many cute deer in the park.

Buster waiting for us outside a shop.

One of the 5 story pagodas.

Me feeding the deer. They were much nicer and more patient for the food, and there were only 2 instead of a whole herd!

He really wanted the food so he climbed into the stream.