Kanko Hotel Tamaru
41 Oshiagecho, Nara, Nara Prefecture, 630-8273, Japan
More about Nara
Anthony and the deer.
Inside Kasuga Shrine
A lone deer in Nara, Japan
Travel Tips for Nara
For the non-tourist tourist
In the three years that I lived in the countryside of Nara prefecture, I discovered two very beautiful and little-known temples (by little-known, I mean by tourists- although Japanese people are very familiar with both of them). One is Hasedera Temple and the other is Murou-Ji Temple. Both of them are roughly an hour from Nara and can be accessed by taking the Kintetsu line from Nara, transferring at Saidaiji, and then transferring again at Yamato-Yagi. Take the local train about 4 or 5 stops to Hasedera station for Hasedera Temple or take the express for 3 stops to Murou-guchi-ono station for Murou-ji Temple.
Hasedera is one of very few active Buddhist monasteries. As you tour the temple, you can hear the monks practicing their chants and may occasionally be greeted by a monk as he sweeps the many steps of the temple. Murou-ji is an incredibly old temple located in a very remote mountain village (you can take a bus from the station, but most people hike through mountains and bus back). There is a staircase to a wonderful viewpoint that reminds me of the stairs in "The Lord of the Rings". Entrance fee for either temple is 500 yen. Don't expect to see many foreigners at either temple.
A Must-See: The Todaiji Temple and Giant Buddha
Just as huge gothic cathedrals mark the power of the church in medieval Europe, so too does the Todaiji Temple, one of the world's largest wooden building enclosing the world's largest bronze sculpture, mark the ascendancy of Buddhism in Nara-era Japan. Constructed in the 8th century, the site has been ravaged by fires and earthquakes, so very little of the temple is original, the the buddha itself has survived (without its gold leaf). Both the building and the buddha are sites to behold!
While this is one place where you won't see any deer, the Todaiji Temple (like the rest of Nara) is not without its little fun quirks. One of the columns in back of the buddha has a tunnel cut through its base, allowing children to crawl through it (and sometimes small adults). So, while the kids are occupied, you can contemplate the buddha, its massive size and its beauty as a work of art. You can gaze at the structure's architecture and study the 1:50 scale model of the original temple grounds. And you can walk around the grounds. This is a great place!
Todaiji Temple - Illuminated.
This picture is from a postcard which I bought at the temple. I find this view of the temple very special, as one does not get to see it very often.
Todaiji temple is the largest wooden temple in Japan. A big statue of the Great Buddha is housed inside this huge wooden structure.
In the picture, you can notice the face of the Great Buddha through a small window above the entrance to the hall. This window is opened, and the hall is brightly illuminated twice a year. Once on New Year's eve and also on August 15 during the Festival of Lights.
The Great Buddha is really huge. When I enter the temple, I feel peace and quiet. I also tried to take some pictures of the Great Buddha, but it was too big. At the right side of the Buddha, there's a stall selling souvenirs by the monks. There are also lots of small wooden "planks" with writings. These are the wishes of the followers. One can buy "fu" (in chinese) in little clothed envelop with a knot and a string for good luck, good health, good studies, etc. The name of the temple, in chinese characters, will be sewn on the envelop, making it unique.
An ancient capital
"History and Deers"
Nara used to be the capital of Japan, called Heijo-kyo, from 710 to 784. It was considered the cradle of Japanese culture, arts and crafts. Buddhism first flourished here under the strong patronage of successive emperors and empresses. When the ancient capital was moved to Kyoto, a large part of Nara capital was turned into paddy fields. However, the temples and shrines in Nara capital were left and Nara began to enter a new phase in its history as the city of temples and shrines. No other city in Japan has survived from the Nara Period so long as the city of Nara. Major cultural heritage in Nara have been registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Besides all the impressive history, tame deer is Nara's symbol which you can see roaming freely everywhere around Nara Park and temples.
I LOVE NARA
"My Ichiban Favorite Japanese City: Nara!"
Nara is a must see destination in Japan. I don't care how much time you have in Kyoto, if you miss Nara then you've made a big mistake.
Hey! Everybody makes mistakes.
It's like that old saying in Japan; even monkeys fall from trees!
"Festival in Nara"
I stumbled upon this festival in Nara and just happened to have my camera ready.
"Parade of the Big Umbrellas"
Everybody was dressed in white and to me it looked like a Chinese funeral procession.
Popular Hotels in Nara
1110 Takabatakebodai-Cho, Nara, Nara