Nara, Japan

Todaiji was built on the orders of emperor Shomu and completed in 752. It has been burned and rebuilt twice, and most of the present-day buildings date from the latest, 18th century, reconstruction. As head of all Buddhist temples in Japan, and repository of innumerable treasures from the early Buddhist period of Japan, the importance of this temple in Japanese history and culture can hardly be exaggerated. Today the visitor can still see its most famous treasure, the Great Buddha, inside the main hall; Shomu's personal treasures from the Shoso-in; and many fine subsidiary sculptures.