After yesterday's breathtaking series of events, we did wonder what could top that and Cat's schedule for the day was interesting:
1. Kyoyo station for breakfast
2. Train to Nara -- Todaiji Temple (buddha), Kasuga Grand Shrine (3,000 lanterns) and Nara Park for deer (rickshaw between)
3. Stopping train back to Kyoto stopping at Fushimi Inari
4. Ponto Cho in th evening
It doesn't sound too much. Only 4 things on the face of it. Yesterday's had 6!
Anyway Nara was a short train ride away and is another Japanese city with old buildings on the outskirts built around the large train station... of course nothing like Kyoto's! Nara isn't that much of a city really but has a whole slate of important buildings probably because for about 70 years from 710 AD, it was the capital of Japan. Back then it was called Heijokyo and lost its status in another one of the civil wars.
We asked a lady at the station where the Todaiji Temple was and she kindly hauled out a map and with vigourous strokes of a red crayon drew all the bits we should see in Nara City. It was exhausting listening to her and we were probably the 43rd tourist who'd asked the same thing that day. She was a one-person tourist authority.
More to the point, her directions were spot on too and all too soon as we strolled the 15 minutes in the warm sunshine (yay!) along Omiya Street, we came to the front gates of the temple and went inside.
We'd noticed before in Miyajima that deer walked all over the place and came up to people hassling them for food. But here in Nara there were attack deer who hunted in packs. Cat's mum, Thelma, made the big mistake of trying to shrink away from the deer and move away but they were remorseless and just kept on following.
|And if you decide not to feed them, hold your hand out as though you are a policeman stopping cars.|
|Love the helpful signs! Do NOT turn your back on the deer.|
|The 800 year old gate house|
Pretty much standard lay out though: chubby and sitting with a sort of cheery grin on his face. Like many other places though, as the buddha is a peaceful man he needs protection so is surrounded by a series of scowling friends that I suspect are meant to scare the bejasus out of you.
|Daibutsu in person|
|Some helpers, very grim looking too!|
I know there's gift shops and donation boxes in churches but indulgences like this nearly brought the Catholic church to its knees and sparked the Reformation.
But we did buy a roof slate to help out!!
Next temple was thankfully only a shortish stroll away through the forest and always up more steps (!!) called the Kasuga Taisha Shrine.
|I didn't count the steps!|
This was a Shinto temple (remember Japan is about 50/50 Shinto/Buddhist) and had its own Zen garden of raked sand and perfectly shaped rocks placed just so.
This shrine is number 60 or so as it's been around over 1,200 years like many of the other temples, shrines, pagodas and other buildings in this really old city so has burned down many times before. It is also home to the 3,000 lanterns which seem to go on forever.
However it was a long walk up and down through the forest, park and gardens so after Kasuga we were looking forward to a libation and something to eat but ran into the Five Storey Pagoda on the road back to Nara Station for a brief visit too.
|The team on tour!|
It had been a long walking day so the consensus was for not that much more walking and something easy for dinner. However Indy found an Irish Pub near the downtown core of Kyoto which we found irresistable particularly as we found that Chelsea were playing Cat's dad Gordon's team, Everton, and were in the process of getting soundly stuffed.
15,500 paces of walking today according to my new pedometer!! Felt like it too.
|The art photo! Some of the lanterns in the dark... helped out by strategically placed mirrors!|