All this happened, more or less...

My name is G and these are the true stories of my adventures.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Nara: Todaiji Temple and the Deer Park

Todaiji Temple

Just a hop, skip, and a train away from Kyoto is the little town of Nara -- once an imperial estate, now a tourist trap with an impressive park, a national treasure temple, and hundreds of nearly-tame deer. While the town itself isn't much more than a series of signs pointing to the temple, it's well worth taking a morning to come and wander through the park and temple grounds.

Nara Deer

One bit of advice about the deer for American tourists: Think of them the same way you do petting zoo goats. They're cute to look at and you can pet them if they'll let you, but resist the temptation to feed them or they will chase you relentlessly all the way to the temple steps.

Nara Museum

Sometimes the glitz and kitsch of the touristy bits can distract you from the fact that Todaiji is a sacred religious site. For maximum zen impact, I recommend going alone on a weekday morning when it's a bit quieter and free of the Saturday morning revelers. The park is quite beautiful and if you stray off the beaten path a bit, you'll be able to enjoy a peaceful stroll with the deer. Also take caution if you're traveling with a tour group. Ours wanted to charge us ¥3500 (about 35 USD) to take a bus there and back; instead, we took the train for less than half that.

Monk Outside Todaiji


Always, always, always take the time to peek in gates around temple complexes and soak in the aesthetics.

Todaiji Temple

This would be an awesome photo of Josh lighting incense, except that his kick-ass Rubber Soul t-shirt ended up dominating the frame. O well.

Todaiji Temple

Here's an incense photo, minus the Beatles' t, to make up for the previous one.

Todaiji Temple

Your day in Nara culminates with a visit to the colossal bronze Buddha who is housed in the main hall of the Todaiji complex. One of the few times in my life when I've felt that the word "colossal" was truly appropriate.

Todaiji Temple

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