Todaiji, or "Great Eastern Temple," is a large Buddhist temple complex located in Nara, Japan, which dates back to the 8th century. The central building of the complex, the "Great Buddha Hall," is currently the largest free-standing wooden structure in the world, and this despite the fact that the current version is only 2/3 the size of the original, the temple having twice been completely burned down in fires. As its name suggests, the Great Buddha Hall was built to house a massive solid bronze statue of the seated Buddha, the Nara Daibutsu, which stands 16 meters (52 feet) tall and weighs 437 tons of pure bronze. Todaiji is also famous for its sacred deer, which are said to be emissaries of the Shinto gods, and are allowed completely free reign to roam anywhere in the temple complex.
The temple complex was constructed at massive expense from AD 743 to 752 by desperate Emperor Shomu, in order to bring good karma upon the nation after a series of natural disasters devastated the country. With finances already teetering on the brink, construction of the temple, particularly the massive Buddha, completely bankrupted the government, to the point where Shomu had to take extreme measures to get more money, such as sending hundreds of monks all over the country to ask for donations from private individuals, and even giving away imperial lands (which helped inaugurate the shoen system of private estates). According to Todaiji records, altogether over 2.6 million individuals donated money to help pay for the giant Buddha. The Buddha in fact required so much bronze, that in the end almost all extant bronze in all of Japan was expended in its construction
When the Buddha was finally completed in 752, Emperor Shomu hosted a lavish "eye-opening" ceremony for the statue, which was attended by 10,000 Buddhist monks hailing from not only all over Japan, but also China, India, Thailand, and even as far away as Afghanistan. These foreign monks brought numerous lavish gifts and sacred items to the ceremony, several of which are miraculously well-preserved to this day in the Shosoin museum behind the temple complex, in an ancient wooden building which was ingeniously constructed to be completely airtight, and is only opened once every year in November.