The Birthplace of Japanese Civilization
Before Kyoto became
the capital of Japan, the capital was based in Nara. Now Nara seems
like a smaller town that still has a few surprises. My good friend
Mark lived and worked in Tenri (half an hour south), but he always mentioned
Nara. So we went to Nara. We weren't alone.
Nara is probably most
famous for it's deer. A close second would be the unending streams
of school students being chased by the deer.
Once we got used to the deer (and the swarms
of students), we started to explore the town. First up was cash - the
hotel in Kyoto took either cash, or cash. No credit cards, no travelers
checks, no foreign cash. Yeah. Anyways, we went to this pretty
anonymous bank in Nara and in a few minuets I had 70,000 yen burning a hole
in my bank account. Or not - surprisingly, I didn't get billed until
2 months after we came home. Thanks for the loan Nara Bank!
Mmmm, Ice cream. We can get
green tea ice cream in Vancouver, but it somehow tastes better in Japan.
Mark told us we had to see Todai-ji. The never ending stream of students
were all going in the same direction and for good reason - even after a week
of temples and shrines, Todai-ji is impressive. Guide book says:
"Todai-ji was founded in 745 by Emperor Shomu. It took 15
years to build, and is currently the worlds largest wooden building.
The current temple was built in 1709 and is two-third's the size of the original".
The temple itself
is amazing. You start by walking though the huge wooden gate (Nandai-mon
- Great Southern Gate) and into view of the huge court yard. The courtyard
has a large lantern in the center and smells of the incense burned at each
end. Walking up, the temple completely dominates your field of view.
The inside of the temple is relatively dark (The materials at the time didn't
allow for sky lights), so you don't see what's inside until you are almost
on top them.
Impressive doesn't being to describe the statues inside. The central
statue (first two images) is made of bronze - depicts Rushana, the Cosmic
Buddha who presides over all levels of the Buddhist universe (or so says the
guide book). Apparently the head fell off in an earthquake and and
his right hand has melted twice - in two separate fires. The guard
statue (third image) is my favorite.
Being a week and half into the
trip, having seen Nikko and Kyoto, we were templed out. The guide book
suggested a local photography museum so we walked over and took a look.
The exhibit (which was very good) was about temple statues.
We caught the local train back to Kyoto and then boarded the Shinkansen on
to see Deca!
Tags: Japan(14), temple(6), crowd(2), deer(2), statue(2), bank(1)
From: John Harvey Photo > Trips out of the Country > A Trip to Japan > Nara
Last Modified Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 at 00:35:43 Edit
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