In 743, the emperor Shomu ordered the building of a giant Buddha. Japan had been suffering from smallpox and drought, and the emperor hoped to settle unrest and unite the people with relatively new ideas of Buddhism. The almost 15-meter high Buddha, cast in copper and coated with gold, was completed in 752. The structure housing it, known as the Daibutsu Den, is possibly the largets wooden building in the world and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
One of the oldest and largest shrines in Japan, Kasuga Taisha enshrines four Shinto deities and is considered the family shrine of the Fujiwaras, a clan that was powerful when Nara was made capital of Japan. The lanterns are presented by worshippers, and are lighted twice a year.
Listen to the atmosphere in Kasuga Taisha temple:
Kasuga Taisha is a UNESCO Worl Heritage Site.