Taking a day trip to Nara

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When Sister and I went to Nara, it was hot. Really, really hot. Japanese people, especially Japanese women use their umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun. I decided to embrace this, Sister thought I was crazy and we both fed some deer.

That was what happened in Nara, the deer park.

This was one of the trips we took with Sister’s friends so the four of us took the slowest train ride to date (it was the scenic route) and headed out of Kyoto and to Nara. The first thing we did was head to the tourist centre where we were given a map and told the best walking route to take so that we would miss none of the stunning landmarks in Nara.

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I think it says something about the four of us when a full day’s trip was done in a lot less time. We don’t dawdle, at all. Even in the full heat (I was very glad of my umbrella while everyone else was treating me like an idiot – unlike them I didn’t burn).

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Our first stop was Kofukuji Temple, famous for its five story pagoda where Sister and I also first discovered goShuin – a very cool thing all temples and shrines do in Japan. It is like a calligraphic seal or stamp but one which represents one’s faith. It’s addictive and both Sister and I wish we had known at the beginning of the trip. But at least we knew in Nara and we made sure we had our books marked at each and every shrine and temple we went to.

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Our next stop was not one but two zen gardens both of which were tranquil, architecturally beautiful and full of winding paths, hidden shrines, and bodies of water.

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We then headed up to Kasuga Taisha Shrine and the way up was one of the most beautiful things ever. 2000 stone lanterns decorate the paths leading up to this shrine, and the eaves of the shrine are decorated with around a thousand hanging bronze lanterns. The shrine building are vermilion and the roof is made from cypress bark. Compared to the greenery around it was striking.

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But it was in Todaiji where we saw the Nara Daibutsu, The Great Buddha. It is the world’s largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana and it was a very awe inspiring sight after a day full of beauty.

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It was at the end of the day that we did what we really wanted to do – feed the deer. Nara is full of deer. They are relatively tame but when they see that you have food for them they have no problem pushing and shoving their way to it, even if you are the one pushed and shoved in the process.

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