About Nandaimon(South Big Gate)

Nandaimon & Kongo-Rikishi-zo

About Nandaimon( 南大門(South Gate))

Todaiji Nandaimon (Todai-ji temple, South Big Gate):
Superior Monk Chogen (重源上人) who reconstructed Todaiji Temple during the Kamakura period (1185–1333) rebuilt the Nandaimon too in 1199.
This architectural style brought by Monk Chogen called as Daibutu-yo (Daibutu style). He has experience in the song dynasty in China.

Ju-so-mon (Ni-ju-mon) 重層門(二重門):
Multi-layered-Gate (2 story Gate)
25 m High, Iriomoya Style (入母屋いりもや造り), 5 Bays 3 doors (五間三戸) , one of the biggest temple gate(山門) in Japan.

  • 南大門
  • 南大門
  • 南大門
  • 南大門
Reconstruction of the Kamakura period:

Todaiji temple, which was built in the Nara period, was destroyed by the attack named as “the burning of the southern capital (Nara)” by the Samurai, Military commander, Tairano Shigehira (重衡) in 1180. Most of temple halls including Nandaimon were destroyed.
The Monk Chogen (1121-1206), who was active in the early days of the Kamakura era, was appointed as a “Daikanjin” which role is to organize the reconstruction of Todaiji Temple and Nandaimon was also rebuilt by the Chogen.

The Superior Monk, CHOGEN Shonin (重源上人):

A monk who studied Shingon esoteric Buddhism at Daigo-ji Temple in Kyoto. When he was in his 40s, he went to China three times to absorb the knowledge and skills of South Song Dynasty.
After returning to Japan, he worked as a recruiting monk to raise funds for the construction and restoration of shrines and temples in various places.

After gaining that experience, he was appointed as a ”Daikanjinshiki(大勧進識)” literally means “great encouragement of reconstruction” of Todaiji Temple.
He worked vigorously until he died at the age of 86, including recasting the Great Buddha and rebuilding the Great Buddha Hall and Nandaimon.

Kongo-Rikishi-zo: Two Buddhist Guardian King Statue

Also, during the reconstruction of Kamakura period, Buddhist image sculptors of Kei School also participate in the reconstruction and make an effort.
The two giant statues of Kongo-Rikishi-zo(金剛力士像), standing on both sides of Nandaimon, which are over 8m high, were made by the group of Buddhist image maker of Kei School (慶派の仏師) under the leadership of Unkei (運慶).
The Kongo-Rikishi-zo is a guardian deity of the Great Buddha.

It is said that Unkei(運慶) and Kaikei (快慶) with disciples completed the Kongo Rikishi-zo in only 69 days in 1203.

The Stone lion Guardian.

On the left and right sides of the north side of the gate are stone lion statues engraved by Ino yukisue(伊行末) who is a stonemason from Song Dynasty China. Since it was believed that the lion had the spiritual power to overwhelm the devil, it was used as a guard for the gates and doors.

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