A major monastery-temple belonging to the Kegon sect of Buddhism. It was erected by order of the emperor Shōmu (r. 724-749) in Nara, the capital of Japan from 710-784, and was completed in 798. Immense in scale, its construction almost brought the nation to bankruptcy. It is generally regarded as the largest wooden structure in the world. The principle image of the temple, a colossal bronze statue popularly called the "Great Buddha of Nara," was completed in 752. The Great Buddha, along with most of the extant Tōdaiji buildings, are restorations of earlier structures. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)
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