Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Nara



Decor in our bathroom at Shiraume.
Flowers are amazing things.  Breakfast is also an amazing thing.  Especially when is brought straight to your room.  After the incredible Japanese kaiseki course, we chose the Western style breakfast for the following morning.  We were not disappointed.  


Now ready to face the day, we took off for Nara. 

Nara is about thirty minutes south of Kyoto by train.  After successfully getting to the correct station, we made our way to Horyuji Temple.  As we reached the temple entrance, a Japanese man approached us.  He was retired, and had taken up the hobby of learning English and offering his services as a volunteer tour guide.  What luck!


He was an excellent guide.  We learned many interesting things about the temple and the surrounding buildings.  It was fascinating. 

Our next stop was lunch.  Some delicious Japanese udon.


The most famous temple in Nara is probably the Todaiji Temple.  To get there from the train station you must either walk, take a taxi, or go by bus.  Along the way, it was impossible not to notice the other reason for Nara’s fame: deer.


video

Deer were virtually everywhere.  Japanese deer are smaller than those in the US, though they are also wild animals.  Deer are considered to be sacred animals in Nara and are therefore never hunted or eaten.  People are encouraged not to feed them, unless they purchase the special deer crackers that are for sale everywhere. 

These animals were not shy. 
 

After running the deer gauntlet, we finally made it the impressive Todaiji.  As you approach the temple, you must climb the massive stone step to reach the entrance.  Just behind the shroud of incense smoke looming in the dark, is Nara’s famous Daibuttsu-or big Buddha. 

 

The giant serene Buddha sits on his lotus flower in between the guardian statues.  The extreme expressions of these statues were fascinating. 

THe sotry goes that if are able to crawl through this hole in the pillar, you will make it to Heaven. Not surprisingly, children have the easiest time of it.




After soaking in the rich history and culture, we needed to find some sustenance.  Lucky for us when we walked right by this cute little shop.  It was great.  

The Nara mascot hanging out in Nara station.
 A bit of energy regained, we caught the train back to Kyoto.  This was the first night we would stay in the K’s House Japan.  K’s House is a chain of eight hostels around Japan.  They are reasonably priced and extremely nice!  We have stayed in four different locations now and have really enjoyed them all.  If you want to see Japan on a budget-I highly recommend them. 

For dinner there was pizza and beer.  It hit the spot. 


The following day we would move onto Mount Fuji. 
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