A Day Trip to Nara

Several people recommended a day trip out of Kyoto to Nara so we did our research of things to do and see and took the hour long train ride to check it out.
This ancient city was the first capital of Japan and has three World Heritage sites.
Our first stop was Nara Park which is located at the foot of Mt Wakakusa. It is one of the oldest parks in Japan. Over 1,200 wild sika deer freely roam around the park and are classified as a natural treasure.
Vendors in the park sell deer crackers to feed the deer which we opted not to do as we saw that some of the deer can be quite aggressive in going for the food in your hand. There are also many signs reminding you that they are wild animals who can bite you or butt you with their heads.
We were also told that the Japanese consider them to be sacred helpers of gods. People will bow to them and we saw the deer bow back which was quite funny. We tried to capture it on video but were unsuccessful.
Todai-ji is a Buddhist temple originally built in the mid 700’s and at that time held the record of being the world’s largest wooden building. The present reconstruction in 1692 is only two thirds of the original size.
This “Great Eastern Temple” was the head Temple of all Buddhists temples in Japan and grew so powerful that the capital was moved away from Nara in order to lower the temple’s influence on government affairs.
The massive building houses one of Japan’s largest bronze statues of Buddha. The 15 meters tall, seated Buddha is flanked by two Bodhisattvas. This is a person who is able to reach nirvana but delays doing so through compassion for suffering beings.
Side view of the Buddha.
Right flanking Bodhisattva.
We lit a candle for a friend’s son who is battling leukemia.
Left flanking Bodhisattva.
After our visit to the tempe we went to Isui-en Garden.
This serene garden has been preserved since its creation in the Meiji Era (1868-1912) and is the only walking garden in Nara.
It is divided into two separate gardens, and each features a pagoda.
A look inside the empty Tea Room of the Garden.
There are many varied stone pathways directing you through the garden. We really enjoyed this peaceful and uncrowded spot.
Our last stop in Nara was to visit Kasuga-taisha Shrine where there are 3,000 stone lanterns located along the very long gently climbing wooded pathway that takes you up to the shrine. The oldest lanterns are almost a thousand years old.
Yeah, this deer was not about to respond to Jim trying to make him bow back, guess he just wanted a cracker.
There is a single tea-light candle in each lantern that needs to be hand lit. The lanterns are lit at night just once a year during a festival that marks the beginning of spring.
The shrine at the top was underwhelming.
The Wisteria are now in full bloom here and are so beautiful. There are trellises of them and large purple and white wisteria vines climbing on trees going up the mountain.
Gold or brass lanterns along the Shrine’s wall.
On our walk back from the shrine we saw this incredible vine which was supported creating an arch over the path.

So that wraps up our day trip to Nara. We have at least three more Japan blogs to finish before our time is over here on April 28 but thought we would just pop this one day short blog out.

4 responses to “A Day Trip to Nara”

  1. What a wonderful day trip……the gardens are simply gorgeous and the Buddha is pretty incredible….great pics….thanks for the tour!

  2. What an amazing country Japan is! Fantastic photos.

  3. They had similar warnings about the deer back when I visited in the 80s. 🙂
    Twas great that the garden walk was uncrowded. Beautiful spot.

  4. Anette Johnson Avatar
    Anette Johnson

    Love these gardens and shrines. Thanks for my guided morning tour😍

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