Kamilah Taylor
The first Nara post was becoming unwieldy so I decided to break it into two posts. Incidentally, I took 357 pictures/videos during our Nara sightseeing day, so it’s understandable that I have to break this day into two posts.
After seeing Todai-ji, things start to blur together…I know we saw a really big bell, but I’m not sure what it was attached to. It’s definitely the biggest bell I’ve ever seen though.
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Of course there was a shrine attached to the bell, and more cute deer…And then I believe we saw Nigatsu-do, a sub temple of Todai-ji. It had an amazing view of Nara. The dragon in the picture below, to the right, is an example of the water stands that are at every temple/shrine. You’re supposed to wash your hands before going in, and at some of them they say you can also drink the water.
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At this point we made a new friend, the old man gazing at the view in the last picture. He came up to us, probably because we stood out (especially me), and started to explain the history of this temple. Apparently he’s from Kyoto but retired in Nara (real estate is cheaper) and occupies his time working at the Tourist Information Center in Nara. This was his day off, so he was going on the same walking path as we were, just for fun, and he decided to be our tour guide. This gave him a chance to practice his Japanese, Lars a chance to practice his English, and me a chance to tell a Japanese person that I used to watch Oshin as a child in Jamaica. He was pretty shocked at that piece of information.
I think we went to Sangatsu-do after this, Nara’s oldest wooden building.
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Then we headed over to Kasuga Taisha, the Kasuga Grand Shrine. This is famous for its walkway lined with bronze lanterns. On the way there we of course found more deer! The second picture on the right is our guide.
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In case you haven’t caught on yet, deer are kind of sacred in Nara, as evidenced by this deer shrine.
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Our guide explained to us that there are always two guardian statues in front of a really holy place, one with its mouth open, the other with its mouth closed. This symbolizes the circle of life, because you come into the world with your mouth open as a baby and you die with your mouth closed.
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There was this really funny incident with a baby deer trying to drink milk from it’s mother deer and the mother deer moving around.
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We then walked through the beautiful Nara countryside to get back to Sanjo-dori, the main street in Nara.
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At this point we found this lake with this gazebo in the middle. I’m sure it had a name, but I have no clue what it was, just that it was amazingly beautiful and peaceful.
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I’ll end the post with something funny that happened at the end of our walking tour. We walked past a man with bags of bread to feed the deer. They practically mobbed him. When he noticed how interested we were he gave us bags of bread to feed them and then they mobbed us. I also learned what the Japanese do with their bread backs and crusts. When you buy a sandwich in Japan, it never has the crust on it, and we always thought it was interesting – now we know all the crusts and bread backs go to Nara to feed the deer because the man had bags and bags of bread backs and crusts!! It was an amazing insight.
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So that’s it for Nara for the most part. We had a cool dinner based on a recommendation from our guide and then when we got back to our Ryokan Lars found the roach in his luggage. We went to Super Hotel, very clean and very reasonably priced, and then left Nara for Kyoto. I leave you with one of my favorite pictures I took that day.
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