Japan: Nara

Having spent a good couple of hours looking around Kyoto I decided it was time to get out and head to Nara.

Actually it wasn’t nearly so dramatic. Nara is only an hour away on the train and it’s a much smaller, though culturally nearly as important, place. I’d be back in Kyoto in time for sunset at the Silver Pavilion.

Two things that immediately stood out were the long, shady lanes lined with these lanterns. The paths invariably had long lines of school children, some of whom would try their English on me. Even in fragments it was always way better than my Japanese.

Children passing stone lanterns

But these are not the things that Nara is famous for. It’s the deer that roam everywhere. They are curious, tame and a menace if you carelessly hold your map within easy reach. It turns out that they’ll eat almost anything. If a map was considered a tasty snack, I didn’t like to think how aggressive they’d be with my lunch so I hid from them while I munched.

Man and deer in Nara Köen (Park)

While searching for the other thing that Nara is famous for — made more difficult because of the missing map — I stumbled across a few more temples and these lamps.

Lanterns in Nara Köen

Before I got to the main “feature” I found a lot of school children, presumably in art class, painting the surroundings.

School children painting Daibutsu-den

When I tried to get inside I also timed it very badly ((This is normal. If I pick a line at the super market or passport control or security I can almost guarantee that it’ll be the longest one.)). Almost every kid in the prefecture was trying to get to see the same thing as me.

Queuing to get in Daibutsu-den

And once inside Todaiji they were all there talking pictures of each other and of the largest bronze Buddha statue in the world.

Camera phones at the ready, Daibutsu-den

It’s huge, though it’s difficult to grasp a sense of scale since it’s inside a building. Depending on where you look, this is described as the largest wooden structure in the world. Or maybe that was the old version.

Todaiji Buddha Statue

After seeing the statue I meandered back through the park and towards to the train station.