Massive Support Column at Nara’s Todai-ji Temple
Bottom Quarter of a massive 300-year-old support column at the Todaiji Temple in Nara, Japan 東大寺の柱(下の4分の一)、奈良  --  Todaiji (東大寺)  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl,  --  This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/125 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1600 — map & image datanearby photos
Bottom Quarter
of a massive 300-year-old support column at the Todaiji Temple in Nara, Japan

I made a trip to the Todaiji Temple (東大寺) in Nara last month. Nara was the capital of Japan 1,300 years ago.

The main temple building is a massive wooden structure built toward the end of the 1600s (though much smaller and less ambitious than the original building long destroyed by fire). Until recently, it was the largest wooden structure in the world.

Interesting to me was that the main columns were not individual tree trunks, but somehow crafted from component parts. The wooden boards comprising the exterior of each column can be seen in the photo above, but I have no idea what's inside... I'd love to know the full construction technique designed back then (1688) that gives the ~20m (65 foot) tall columns their rigidity. The building has survived (presumably many) strong earthquakes.

(On a tangential note, the technology these days for earthquake protection is amazing... check out this house ground isolation system.)

I don't recall how many of these massive columns the building has (there must be dozens; you can see five of them in the background of the photo above), but this one particular column is special in a funny way. That's the subject of a separate post, here.

Continued here...

All 3 comments so far, oldest first...

The link to the ground isolation system. It’s just amazing!

— comment by Gianluca on January 13th, 2013 at 9:17pm JST (11 years, 1 month ago) comment permalink

The special feature of that column wouldn’t be the head sticking out near ground level? 😉

(Btw., wouldn’t that hole allow a glimpse of the inner construction? Or is there a lining inside?)

— comment by Andreas Weber on January 13th, 2013 at 9:42pm JST (11 years, 1 month ago) comment permalink

This is a wonderful image made even more interesting with the accompanying history about the subject.

— comment by Eric Lawson on January 13th, 2013 at 11:09pm JST (11 years, 1 month ago) comment permalink
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