Walking Tour of Nara.
We arrived at JR Nara station and obtained a map at the small tourist information booth at the station. Cross the road to start your walk. Have a leisure and interesting walk along Sanjo-dori, passing by many shops and hotels.
To be continued...
The 400 yen entrance fee to Todai-ji is well worth it. The Great Buddah statue is awesome and there are many other statues of interest. Watch out for a small hole in the base of one of the structures wooden pillars - you will deserve the good luck that comes with crawling through it, if you manage to squeeze through that space!
Todai-ji is open until 4.30 in the winter and 5.30 in the Summer. tour guides using megaphones can be a real pain in the neck in here - I recommend going later in the afternoon to stand the best chance of avoiding them.
Goju-no-To : The Five-Story Pagoda
Goju-no-To : The Five-Story Pagoda
dates back to the 7th century and you will find it inside of the grounds of Horyuji (Horyu Temple). According to the inscriptions the emperor Yomei had promised to build a temple for Buddha there, but he died before he could fullfill that promise. So his widow Suiko and crownprince Shotoku did build a temple in the year 607. In 670 all of the temple was destroyed by a fire but since they year 747 Goju-no-To ( The Five-Story Pagoda) is listed in the books of the temple.
This temple is listed as a UNESCO World-Heritage !
This temple is situated on top of a hill and it is well worth a visit to catch a bird's eye view of Nara on a clear day. In the picture, there are other travellers having a rest on the benches enjoying the view on a hot day after climbing up the hill. phew.. we made it.
Remember to bring some water along. Unfortunately, there are no vending machines for drinks up there in the temple.
"NARA: full of deer from Ibaraki"
We were in Nara in 2002 for our friend's wedding. A group of us were put up in a house for the time we were there (people from Japan, Australia and the UK). Having a few days we took the others to some of Nara's famous places. It was fun to act as a tour guide and as a group we all got along so well. It was a great trip, not only for the wedding, but for the friendships that were made.
The deer in Nara, around Kasuga Taisha, are quite famous, but they actually mainly come from Ibaraki. Kashima Jingu is a semi-famous shrine in Ibaraki and most of Nara's deer came from there. Being foreigners ourselves, we got along very well with the locally imported Ibaraki deer. Mary-Liz could not be tempted to buy these antlers... but we did manage to get a photo of her in them.
The deer are very tame and you can feed them. However, once you start they will not leave you alone. Deer are believed to be messengers from the Gods.
The two sites mentioned below are two of my favourite places to visit in Nara.
Todaiji is one of Nara's most famous temples. It houses a large statue of the sitting Buddha.
We were there when some work was being down to the outer-structure of the building, but it didn't subtract from the beauty of the place at all.
Inside the main structure is the Daibutsu (large Buddha) and various other historical and religious artifacts. A popular thing with the kids is a large pillar with a hole at the bottom. Kids (and some very small adults) crawl through the space, which represents the Buddha's nostril. Making it through will give you good health!
You could spend quite a while just wandering around Kasuga Shrine. It is the area where most of the deer are in and around.
Kasuga Shrine is classified as one of Japan's top 3 shrines. It is a must-see activity for anyone in the Kansai area.
Surrounded by the 'Kasuga Taisha Shrine Jin'en Park', it is a relaxing place to visit for anyone. The plants and trees in the park appear in Japan's oldest poetry anthology called "Man'yoshu".
Near the north enterance to the shrine is the Homotsu-den (Treasure Hall). It contains equipment used in no, gagaku and bugaku performances, as well as Shinto ceremonial costumes etc.