Monday, 19 November 2012

The Great Buddha at Nara

November 11, Nari and I took the train eastwards to the town of Nara, about an hour away. What makes Nara special is Todaji Temple, a Buddhist Temple that is the largest wooden structure in the world. Why is it so large? Well, Todaji houses the world's largest bronze sculpture, the Great Buddha. Both are rather immensely stunning in their size and scope, and date from about 1200 years ago (the wooden temple's burnt down a few times).
 Along the way to the Temple, besides dodging all the weekend tourists like ourselves, we also had to contend with the veritable swarm of tame deer wandering the streets of the town and everywhere you can imagine. They're pretty much more populous than the local residents, and maybe even the tourists too! They're also tame and very well-fed, with lots of vendors selling packs of deer cookies.
Next up was the Shinto shrine at Nara, a nice forested walk away amidst more deer. T shrine is another UNESCO site, and home to four major Shinto spirits. I especially liked the lantern room.
There were lots of young girls dressed up in beautiful kimonos. Turns out mid-November is a time to bless 7, 5, and 3 year olds. And of course, it's also time for Ichiro sightings, as was the case in the cafe where Nari and I stopped for a snack! Dinner tonight was Japanese BBQ: veggies, seafood, meats all cooked ourselves over a very hot BBQ built into our table. Certainly popular in wintertime to keep warm! I was also warm on account of the sake we had before supper too!