Day Five Afternoon in Nara “Bambi Land” – November 2016
After spending the morning at Fushimi Inari Taisha, we headed to Nara, our next stop for the day. From Inari JR Station, we took the Nara Line and transfer at Uji for Miyakoji Rapid Service and alighted at Miyakoji Station, the final stop. The travel time was approximately 60 minutes.
We stopped by at Starbucks for a cup of latte and asked for direction to Nara Park at the Information Centre. Nara Park is a large park in Central Nara, where the must-see are located – Kofuku-ji, Todai-ji and Bambi, deer that roam in the park. 🙂
Nara (奈良) was the first permanent capital of Japan from 710 to 794 and has the oldest and largest temples in Japan. Our first stop at Nara was Kofuku-ji (興福寺), a Buddhist temple established in Nara at the same time as the capital. It is one of the powerful Seven Great Temples in Nara and one of the eight Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Kofuku-ji’s Five-Storey Pagoda (National Treasure) measuring at 50.1 metres tall, second highest in Japan, is both a landmark and symbol of Nara. It was first built in 730 by Empress Komyoh, and was restored in 1426.
Access to Kofuku-ji is free and open around the clock except for Kofuku-ji’s National Treasure Museum and the Eastern Golden Hall that charge entrance fees which we gave them a miss. Certain parts of the Temple is closed for restoration work, we spent about 15 minutes walking around and taking pictures.
We left Kofuku-ji and walked to the heart of the Park, the place where we spent most of our time. We got so excited when we saw a few deer resting in the drain.
As we walked further in, there were many deer. They were everywhere. This was the first time that I saw so many deer roaming freely in a park. It felt so unreal even though I read that Nara Park is home to more than 1,000 freely roaming deer. Indeed seeing is believing. They are practically everywhere, resting by the road, outside the restaurant and inside the stores. They are lovely. The deer would bow after taking a piece of the deer cracker which can be bought in the park. It would also bow to ask to be fed. Wonder where they learnt this from. These deer are definitely from Japan. 🙂
Deer are considered in Shinto to be messengers of the gods. They have become a symbol of the city and have been designated as a natural treasure. Nara’s deer are generally tame. Therefore, be gentle to them.
Next stop was to Todai-ji (東大寺). I bought the entrance tickets while waiting for my friend who was still busy taking pictures of the deer. While walking from the ticketing area towards Todai-ji, looking at the Temple from a distance, at an angle, we sensed the energy from the Temple. Interestingly when we walked closer and stepped into the Temple, we no longer feel it. Below was the picture I captured from a distance, at an angle.
Todai-ji was built in the Nara period (710-794 AD) at the behest of Emperor Shomu (724-749). The Temple was officially positioned as one of the many state-established provincial temples. It serves both as a place of prayer for peace and affluence on earth, as well as a centre of Buddhist doctrinal research. The chief object of worship is Vairocana Buddha (Buddha that shines throughout the world like the sun). The statue of Vairocana Buddha is made from cast bronze, which was then plated with gold.
When we were leaving the Park, we saw Bambi, a lovely baby deer. A nice wrap to our visit.
We have reached our final post on My Kansai Region Travel Series. Thank you for joining me on this travel journey. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. 🙂
Getting there: From Kyoto Station, take the JR Nara Line, transfer at Uji for Miyakoji Rapid Service and stop at Miyakoji Station, the final stop.
Admission to Kofuku-ji: Access is free and open around the clock except for the National Treasure Museum (600 Yen) and the Eastern Golden Hall (300 Yen) that charge entrance fees or both at 800 Yen. Open from 9:00 to 17:00. For more information, go to www.kohfukuji.com.
Admission to Todai-ji: Admission fee is at 500 Yen. Open from 8:00 to 17:00. For more information, go to www.todaiji.or.jp.
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