The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, 11 January 2007

Nara - Oh deer, that's a huge statue!

(Pun intended.)

We headed to Nara last Wednesday, which was the last day of the Japanese New Year holiday. Nara, like Kyoto, retained a bit of old-Japan feel, which is fitting for its historical stature in Japan (it was the first permanent capital of Japan, about 1300 years ago). Also like Kyoto, there are many temples and shrines located in Nara. It's a Japanese New Year custom and tradition to visit shrines and temples, and being the 3rd of January, the streets of Nara were absolutely packed with Japanese families making their annual pilgrimage.

The busy crowd in Nara-koen:

A five-storey pagoda (Rob at the bottom right corner - he wasn't aware I was including him in the photo):


The main road was also filled with festival stalls selling lots of junkfood yummies like takoyaki (fried octopus balls), okonomiyaki (pancake/omelette), oden (a type of hotpot) etc as well as a few local specialties we've never seen before, like egg and various toppings on a large piece of senbei (mochi rice cracker) which also doubled as a plate.

A takoyaki stall; and another stall making imagawayaki/taiyaki/oobanyaki with fillings like custard, chocolate and anko (sweet red bean paste):


Nara is also home to lots of deer. In fact, Nara-koen has approximately 1200 deer. Really, that was probably my main reason to visit Nara - to feed the deer. There were bold and timid deer, as well as indifferent ones (although the indifference was probably because the deer were stuffed with the deer biscuits that the hordes of tourists have been feeding them that day).


The next morning on our way to Todaiji, the streets were blissfully empty. There were, however, lots of hungry deer who literally attacked anyone with anything in their hands that looked like food. Poor Rob had deer slag all over his jumper and pants :P

An empty road - a stark contrast to yesterday's crowd; and hungry deer:

Todai-ji is a world heritage temple, and includes Daibutsuden Hall which is the world's largest wooded structure (apparently the present structure is 2/3rds of the original size). And it has to be huge because it houses a large 15m-tall statue of Buddha.

Daibutsuden Hall; a water 'fountain' just outside the Hall (for drinking and washing); and the huge statue (for size comparison, note the man in green standing at the base of the statue near the candle stands - the candle stands were as big as the man was. Big flowers too):

At the base of one of the wooden pillars inside this Hall, there is a hole which is apparently the size of the Buddha statue's nose. It is said that if you can crawl through the hole (ew yuck! Why would anyone see if they are fit to be booger?) then you're a step closer to enlightenment. Or something like that. I don't believe the stuff but I decided to go for it anyway because I want to see if I could be booger. No no, my real reason was photo op - Rob wasn't all too keen on going through the hole, and taking a shot of a hole on its own is pretty boring.

By midday that day, we were on our way to the city of Hiroshima, which is the highlight of this trip (and fittingly so). Stay tuned!

No comments:

Post a Comment