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Kyoto and Nara, part 2

Nara Travel Blog

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Todaiji Temple
Leaving Kyoto for our afternoon trip to Nara, we  passed two of the tallest pagodas in Japan. About an hour after we left Kyoto, we arrived in Nara. The first stop on our agenda was to visit the Todai-ji Temple and Deer Park. The Todai-ji temple is a Buddhist temple  made of wood, and it is said to be the tallest wooden building in the world. Inside of the temple is a statue of the Great Buddha Daibutsu, almost 15 meters tall! It is very impressive. Although it looks large in pictures, one cannot truly understand how immense the statue is unless  you are either there to see it for yourself or you have something to compare it to.
The Great Buddha
Fortunately, right before we left, I noticed a man extinguishing some candles at the base of the Buddha, and was able to take a picture with him in the foreground and the Buddha in the background. The base of Buddha is taller than the man, who is of average height. We also saw some statues of guardians of the Buddha, two of which were in its entirety, and two other statues whose heads only were displayed. The original Buddha was created in the 700s and was made of bronze. Throughout time, parts of it has been restored, most recently being the head in the 1700s.

As you exit the temple, you are walking on the grounds of Deer Park, where hundreds of deer roam freely. While some of the deer chose to rest nonchalantly in the shade, most of the deer decided to greet their visitors in hopes of getting treats.
Deer Park
We saw one man being surrounded by at least 5 or 6 deer, and another kid with a cookie in his hand who was being followed by young deer. The sika deer (think Bambi) are said to be sacred.

On the outskirts of Nara Park is the Kasuga Shrine. This Shinto shrine is known for its many lanterns. There are over a thousand stone lanterns that line the path to the various shrines and tori-i on the property. The lanterns are lit during major Shinto ceremonies, and the neighboring forest is said to have a spiritual sense about it. What was really cool was that there was an old tree trunk that had a young tree growing in the middle of it. It reminds us that there truly is a circle of life, and everything old is new again!

When we returned to Kyoto after our trip to Nara, Chris and I decided to visit the Kyoto Tower. We went up at an ideal time - we were able to watch the beginning of sunset over the mountains. We took some pictutes, had our picture taken with the Kyoto Tower mascot, and headed into the mall at the train station to find food for dinner. Although I wanted to have a noodle dish or some other authentic cuisine, Chris wanted something more familiar, so we finally agreed to eat at an italian restaurant in the mall. When we finished eating, we walked around the mall for awhile and then decided to return to the hotel room early and relax for the remainder of the evening.
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Todaiji Temple
Todaiji Temple
The Great Buddha
The Great Buddha
Deer Park
Deer Park
Nara
photo by: yasuyo