Sunday, April 13, 2014

Japan Day 2: Nara

Day 2: Finally after two days of traveling, we were ready to start seeing some of the things we came so far to see! We hopped another train to Nara.

While on the train, we sat by some Japanese school children on a trip with their grandparents during Spring Break. They had never met "gaijin" (foreigners) before and were very excited to practice their English with us. They asked us if we were also going to Horiyuji. This sounded familiar so we said yes. They helped us catch another train and then a bus to the temple at Horyuji.

Starting to catch the beginning of the sakura (Japanese Cherry Blossoms)

While it was neat to see, we didn't have enough time to pay admission to get in past the gates and our real destination was actually Nara.

They were so cute I can't blame them for "tricking us" into following them to the wrong place.

So after a few pictures, we made our way back on the bus, the second train, and to Nara. 

Fountains for washing hands and mouths were outside most of the temples.

Nara has this funny little mascot with antlers named Sento-kun...

Time was ticking so we caught a taxi to the temple site to see the "big Buddha," Daibutsu at Todai-ji. Let me tell you, the taxis are nothing in Japan like they are in the US. The biggest difference is, they are so clean! You sit on big white doilies looking out curtained windows while a white gloved gentleman drives you to your destination, only to let out out of an automatically opening door.
...because of the deer. They are quite tame and you can feed them and try to pet them. But they can get aggressive (this sign warns you they can kick, bite, head butt, etc).


The gates are guarded by these intimidating figures.

When you finally make it into the main gate, you are greeted by beautiful grounds and a huge wooden temple, evidently the largest wooden structure in the world!

Inside sits the Great Buddha. He is impressive in size, a reported 16 m tall, and the largest Buddha figure in Japan. 

After seeing Daibutsu, we continued our exploration of the grounds. This was probably my favorite part of the day. I felt very aware that we were walking in a place where people had been walking for over one thousand years. The forest had almost a mythical feel with large trees with knotty roots and friendly deer interspersed with old rock lanterns and staircases up mountains to more and more temples.

How Japanese: a crane and cherry blossoms! 

Beautiful gardens

Amazing views
 We continued our way across the street to catch the last of daylight at the park across the street. This was a somewhat eery (maybe just at dusk) and beautiful walking path lined by hundreds of moss covered lanterns and ancient trees.

We walked back through the different gardens and temple sites to the train station.

We finally made it back to Kyoto and had a late dinner (finally...we had hardly eaten all day!) of okonomiyaki--Japanese pancakes (with vegetables and meat and other things you might like mixed in). Yummy!

Maybe it was because it was my first real exposure to Japan, but Nara was probably my favorite place in Japan.

1 comment:

brenna said...

Sounds like quite the trip! I'm excited to hear about the rest of it!