Saturday, July 16, 2005


Nara is a small town about 45 minutes from Kyoto. Not only was it the capital of Japan long long ago, but it was also the home of a powerful lord who was related to the Shogun. Because of this, it has a ton of temples and shrines, all within a huge park. Deer are sacred in the park, so they're allowed to run free. Tourists buy deer crackers to feed the deer - but watch out! The deer can sniff out those crackers and they'll mob any tourist who buys one. (We mostly saw parents forcing their children to feed the deer for photo ops - children who are now deeply traumatized by the experience and will forever fear anything with antlers.)

The main attraction in Nara park is the Big Buddha Hall. This wooden structure is the largest wooden structure in the world (or so their pamphlets claim.) The buddha inside is also huge and it's hard to get an idea of just how big from my picture. The lotus petals at his base are probably eight feet tall. The amazing thing is that the hall is even smaller than the original buddha hall which had to be replaced.

There were also several other shrines and temples in Nara park, including one that's famous for its many stone lanterns. By then we were a little templed-out, and we returned to Kyoto after a nice walk through the forested park (avoiding deer!)


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