Nara, Japan – Tōdai-Ji Temple

by | May 14, 2019 |

Nara, Japan: Going There, Getting There

Question: What to do on a Sunday afternoon? Answer: Hop a train and go to Nara.

It’s the capital of Japan’s Nara Prefecture in south-central Honshu. It was the capital of Japan in the 8th century. The reason to go there is for the statue of the 8th-century Virocana Buddha, an official National Treasure.

Getting there is a breeze. From Osaka it’s about an hour straight east on the Kintetsu Line.

Among the many things to love about Japan is the train system. I’ve finally got it down, and I love to zip around on my own, meeting up with my Japanese teacher or Gerard and Rimi.

Nara Japan: The Deer, the Darned Deer

One of the attractions (okay, we’ll them that) of Nara are the many native deer – shinka – that run tame around town. You smell them before you see them. The waft of urine is intense.

They are considered messengers of the gods and so are protected within city limits.

Here are some:


Yup, even more:

Okay, enough already:

NaraAlthough they run tame through town, deer are not house pets. Despite the warning signs, such as the one below, people treat them as house pets – at their peril.

Turns out, in 2017, the deer population had gotten so large the government had to start culling them in order the preserve the forests around Nara.

Nara, Japan: Carnival Atmosphere

I can say with the absolute confidence of a well-traveled globe trotter that mostly what people want to do world-wide is walk around, look at cool stuff, buy stuff and feed their faces.  Me, I’m right in there with the rest of them.

Here’s part of the walkway to the temple. It’s lined with food stalls and souvenir stands.

The young man wearing the backpack is Gerard

More food and what-not

Packed, packed, packed

I include this image below because, with my baby Japanese and katakana (one of the syllabaries) under my belt, I can read what this booth is selling:


It reads: ta-pi-o-ka-do-ri-n-ku. Any guesses?

Nara, Japan: Tōdai-Ji Temple

Here’s the gate:


Impressive – as are most things to do with Japanese temples and shrines

The first glimpse of the temple once you buy your ticket:


Now comes the Buddha:


The stats:

Height of the body: 59′

Length of the head: 17′

of the eye: 3.3′

of the ear: 8.3′

Height of the lotus petal: 10′ (I’m guessing the lotus petal is the blue and red painted leaf in the lower left ….?)

Another view:


To his left is this guy/gal:


To his right is this guy/gal:


Behind, a kinda cool guy:


Along with:

We now leave the temple. Here I get to trot out the information that the octagonal lantern, below, is also from the 8th century and an official National Treasure:


A beautiful day, as you can see, and a lovely afternoon!

Nara, Japan: What To Do Afterwards?

We went to dinner at the home of Harasan, who fixes dinner for Gerard every Friday and he gives English lessons to her kids. This happened to be a Sunday. She is a warm and joyful person. She is arranging chimaki, a sticky rice treat that comes wrapped in a bamboo leaf:

Chimaki, close-up:

I’m thrilled to know the kanji (logogram) on the soda can with the word New and the image of half of a grapefruit. It is made up of ‘water’ plus an extra dash in the upper left corner to make it ‘ice.’

See also: Japan Archives

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This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen

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