Kamilah Taylor
Nara is without competition one of the most peaceful tranquil beautiful places I’ve ever seen. We got there around 6 pm and went down this really cool street, Sanjo-dori, which is apparently the center of Nara.
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Our Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) was actually on this street (so we were happy with Lars for at least one night). We stayed at the Ryokan Hakuho –
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- a place which seemed absolutely amazing and charming…until our second night, when Lars and Kristen found a roach in their suitcase. Needless to say, we packed up and switched hotels, to the Super Hotel close to the Nara JR Train Station. Luckily I hadn’t written up this post yet, so I don’t have to take back all the nice things I was going to say, and will instead warn people against going to this place, since their only reaction to finding a roach in Lars and Kristen’s suitcase was to spray some roach spray. Then they disappeared and went to take a shower or something.
This doesn’t spoil the amazing time I had in Nara. There were all these school children, from the very young to the very old, all out on field trips -
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- but best of all were the deer. Nara is apparently known for their deer, they’re kind of sacred there. And for good reason, because deer are adorable. They let you pet them, and as soon as they spot anything they think is deer food in your hands, they come to you for it. There’ll be more deer later on in this post.
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The back of the shirt of that cute kid says “I am a sheriff of the skeletons” and “Anytime justice shall prevail”. Got to love Engrish (I’ll explain that in a dedicated Engrish post).
Ok, so first we saw Kofoku-ji (a temple) and the Five-Storey Pagoda. Kofuku-ji was founded in 669 AD but moved to its current location in 710 AD (around the time when Nara became the capital of Japan).
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A lot of the buildings seemed to have fallen into disrepair, and it there was lots of construction going in, I assume for restoration. After this we walked to Todai-ji (another temple). On the way we found more deer, stopped at a small shrine (Himuro-jinja), and visited an Earthquake center that had a kinda scary Earthquake simulator and a very cool demonstration of how an earthquake feels in a building designed to withstand earthquakes.
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That deer held up traffic while it calmly strolled across the road. There are those signs all over telling us what we shouldn’t do to deer, for instance that sign said that if you touch baby deer, the mother deer would get mad. And there was a useful warning that the 150 Yen Deer Biscuits are awful for people.

Todai-ji is I think the most famous temple in Nara. It has a huge gate which has it’s own name, Nandai-mon (Great Southern Gate) with 7 meter tall guardian gods (they were huge!).
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After the gate there’s a beautiful pond and yet another entrance.
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Then we finally get to the temple itself, which has a beautiful lawn in front of it.
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Inside the temple there is a giant Budha statue, a Daibutsu. This is Japan’s largest bronze statue (it’s 15 meters tall).
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At the end of all these temples, shrines, and castles, they have stands selling various souvenirs. With my upcoming qual exam in mind, I decided it couldn’t hurt to buy this:
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Some last shots of Todai-ji and that’ll be that for this first part of my Nara write up.
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Edit: This is a video of the Earthquake Simulator I mentioned. It's amazing the difference designing a building for earthquakes can make.
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