He is mainly remembered for commissioning the 16 meter high statue of Vairocana Buddha in Todaiji. At the time, this was such a massive undertaking that later chroniclers accuse him of having completely exhausted the country's reserves of bronze and precious metals. The emperor personally painted in the statue's irises at the opening ceremony in 752 and declared himself a servant of the Buddha, the Buddhist teaching and the Buddhist monastic establishment, making this the closest anyone ever came to declaring Japan a Buddhist nation. However, by this time Shomu had already been succeeded by Koken.
|Emperor of Japan||