Day 10: NaraNara was Japan’s capital before Kyoto, from 710 to 794.
Breakfast (included in the stay) was in the main dining room, at a table with a view.
They delivered an English newspaper to my room, the Japan Times. It has a page on learning Japanese. Random coincidence that there was an article mentioning Einstein.
From the hotel I walked to Nara Park. There’s a pond on the way and a nice view.
The Deer of Nara
History and temples and shrines are neat, but let’s be honest: the real reason people come to Nara is for the deer. About 1,200 wild deer live here and just hang out (mostly, it seems, hoping the humans will feed them). They are protected and registered as national treasures—the history of them in Nara goes back a thousand years and they are thought to be messengers from the gods. Killing them used to be a capital offense punishable by death. It is still illegal to hurt them, but I suspect you won’t be executed.
Most of the time they’re docile, but sometimes you’ve got to watch out for them.
You just have to love them.
I wonder if they obey the crossing signals? (Answer: no. Later I saw one crossing on a red and all of the cars had to stop and wait for it.)
They clearly aren’t afraid of people. You could go up and pet them.
When you buy deer food, they’re instantly on to you. I bought a stack of deer crackers, and before I could get the tape off of the bundle a group of deer were “attacking” me: nipping at my legs, the bag I had with me, head-butting me…they weren’t going to leave me alone until I was out of crackers!
Todai-ji is the site of the world’s largest wooden structure, which contains Japan’s largest statue of Buddha.
Here’s the entrance to the temple grounds.
And here’s Daibutsuden (Great Buddha Hall), the largest wooden structure.
And the giant Buddha inside, along with his friends (I’m sure there’s some technical term for Buddha’s friends).
A model of the original template area.
Miscellaneous artifacts inside Daibutsuden.
Next I walked to the shrine Kasuga Taisha, founded in 768. The pathway is lined with lanterns; there are at least a couple thousand lanterns throughout the shrine precincts.
Deer have been living with the people in Nara for a long time. You see the deer motif everywhere.
Of course the deer hang out amongst the lanterns.
Random pictures around the shrine.
And more deer!
These ones want ice cream.
Back to Osaka
I walked back to the hotel, picked up my bags, and since it was a nice sunny day and I had some time, I made the trek back to the station on foot. The old Nara Station building is in front of the new Nara Station building.
I caught the Nara Line train back to Kyoto. The Nara Line has no English announcements or signs once you’re on the train, but it’s easy enough to figure it out since Nara is the last stop on one side and Kyoto is the last stop on the other side.
From Kyoto I hopped on the next train to Osaka (just a 15 minute journey) where I’ll stay for the night. I went out and found some dinner.
Tomorrow I might hit up an aquarium here in Osaka, then it’s back on the Shinkansen for the three-hour ride to Tokyo where I’ll spend the last two nights of my stay in Japan.