Japan 2013: Day 4 Osaka & Nara Day Trip Part 2

DAY 4 (CON’T)

Decided to take the bus rather than walk (which will take around 30 min) as I felt a bit lazy to walk.

Before I go on for the itinerary for the rest of the afternoon, here is some background information on Nara.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2165.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nara,_Nara

Nara was the original or rather ‘old’ capital of Japan. This explains why the main attractions in Nara are historic in nature (namely temples). As the Nara Prefecture borders Kyoto, it makes Nara a popular day trip destination from Kyoto (as explained in Part 1 entry). However due to hotel logistic reasons, I made the trip from Osaka instead.

As I was on the bus, it seemed that the route was simple enough to walk (just keep walking straight from the train station), while the bus sort of moved quite slowly – a combination of very narrow roads + many vehicles on a Sunday. Ended up reaching Todaiji a good 1/2 hour later. The bus stops right across from Nara Park, while Todaiji itself is located on the North side of Nara Park (which to me makes sense to take a bus over rather than walk) ……

Nara Park …… The autumn leaves (Koyo) do not seem to be in full bloom as yet ……

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Still a bit of walk to reach Todaiji’s main entrance …… bordered by some shops at the sidewalk (which includes food kiosks, souvenir shops etc.)

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Deer from Nara Park roaming around the walkway to the temple. You can see many children feeding them ……

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More deer at the gardens located in front of the temple entrance. This pond was a nice photo taking spot.

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Some history on Nara’s famed deer extracted from wikipedia:

According to local folklore, deer from this area were considered sacred due to a visit from one of the four gods of Kasuga Shrine, Takemikazuchi-no-mikoto.[2] He was said to have been invited from Kashima, Ibaraki,[3] and appeared on Mt. Mikasa-yama riding a white deer. From that point, the deer were considered divine and sacred by both Kasuga Shrine and Kōfuku-ji.[3] Killing one of these sacred deer was a capital offense punishable by death up until 1637, the last recorded date of a breach of that law.[3]

After World War II, the deer were officially stripped of their sacred/divine status,[3] and were instead designated as National Treasures and are protected as such. Today, visitors can purchase “deer-crackers” (鹿煎餅 Shika-senbei) to feed the deer in the park. These crackers are exclusively sold by the WNOW company.[2]

Finally reached Todaiji Temple!

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Accidental candid pose there! Original intention was to take a picture of the stone signboard but the little boy got in the way 😛

Inching closer to the entrance of Todaiji Temple. Its really crowded on a Sunday!

This is the Nandaimon Gate along the approach to Todaiji.

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The Nandaimon Gate has 2 fierce looking statues on the side. Captured one of them in my camera ……

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Have to walk somemore ……

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More deers in the temple compound. Yet another candid shot. Its amazing that the children have no qualms and/or no fear getting close to the deers, while some adults hestitate (Me being one of them as I’m sensitive to having animals near me) ……

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Beautiful pond garden. Seems like autumn is still early in Nara as well ……

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Another gate to go through before getting into the main hall. The admissions office is also located inside the gate. 500 JPY entrance fee.

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Yet another walk to the main hall ……

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Finally within distance of Todaiji’s Main Hall – the Daibutsuden (Big Buddha Hall) ……

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Some dedicated history on Todaiji below:

http://www.sacred-destinations.com/japan/nara-todaiji

Todaiji is also earmarked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as ‘Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara’.

Lush green compound and clear blue skies ……

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Incense burning right in front of the main hall. One pecuilar custom of the Japanese after praying and planting the incense into the burner is to continue to stand there, and fan the incense smoke towards yourself! Reason being that the smoke is believed to have healing power. Anyway when in Japan, do what the Japanese do ……

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The Big Buddha,one of the largest buddha bronze statues in Japan ……

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Note: Touched up on the photo using snapseed as the original was too dark.

Intricate cravings ……

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Side view of the Big Buddha statue ……

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Another smaller statue displayed in the Hall. Its of a general ……

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Replica models of former and current builidngs of Todaiji. Interesting to see how the temple evolved to what it is today ……

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Huge crowds as expected on a Sunday. Its only now that I realised that the quene is for the pillar that has a hole in its base. It is said that one who is able to squeeze through the hole will be granted enlightenment in his/her next life. Read more about it here ……

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Did hear about this hole but the temple was so crowded that I was more focused on finishing the tour around, rather than seek ‘enlightenment’ 😛

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