Monday, August 24, 2009

Nara Park

The Big Buddha and the Small Deer Who Guard Him

Situated in the park, the largest temple called Todai-ji, is a truly impressive temple complex with a rich history.

In the first of the gates each side is guarded by two enormous Nio Guardians.
Carved in the 13th century.

Next is the second gate on the way to the centre of Todai-ji, where the Daibutsu-den, or Hall of the Great Buddha stands.

The Daibutsu-den
It is the largest wooden building in the world. The current structure was rebuilt in 1709 and is actually only 2/3rds the size of the original building.
He doesn't look very big from this angle.
The statue is 16m tall and made up of 437 tonnes of bronze and 130kg of gold.
I think his hand is about 2 metres or so in height.

More guardian statues ward the inside of the hall.


Though it looks a bit macabre with the black and white patterns, this statue is reputed to have healing powers. The legend states that by rubbing the part that ails you on the statue and then correspondingly on yourself, you will gain some relief. The patterns on the wood are from people rubbing the statue.

Outside the Kasuga Shrine are many stone lanterns with traditional paper, upon which I think prayers are written affixed to the lanterns.


The famous deer are all through the park, though very seldomly do the enter the temple and shrine complexes themselves.
Atop a small mountain overlooking Nara City.

Drinking from a stream in the park, just below the Nigatsu-do Shrine.


Quite fearless and actually a bit aggressive they will try to eat anything that looks like food. There are special biscuits that you can buy to feed them, many people do, the money goes towards maintaining the health of the deer population but feeding them does encourage them to look to humans for food. This goes against almost all of what I, as a Canadian have learned about living with wildlife, but this is the only place in Japan that I have come across this attitude, most places sensibly telling you NOT to feed the animals.

Good thing the deer are small!
Don't run out of biscuits!
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