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奈良 Nara – May 6th, 2012

As part of my study abroad program, we students were required to take an independent trip to the city of Nara and visit certain temples and shrines there. For those who don’t know, Nara was the capital before Kyoto, which was the capital before Tokyo. Together with my roommate, we made our way from Kyoto to Nara in about 2 hours. The train ride surprisingly did not felt as long as it was and it was actually quite enjoyable.

We arrived in Nara at 1pm and it looked like it was going to rain when we got out of the station. At the time of the photo, it was sightly sprinkling.

An interesting fountain right next to the station entrance.

After leaving the station, it did not take long before we encountered…deers?

Yes, a lot of deers. Nara is famous for its abundance of deers in addition to its historic temples and shrines. In fact, the city’s mascot, Sento-kun, is an odd fusion of the two themes.

Continuing on, we need to cross the street and pass through the park ahead.

Here, a girl has some fun with feeding the deers. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people came to Nara just to see and feed deers.

Some kids with their guardian takes a picture with a deer that was resting on the ground.

The other side of the park appeared to be much more lonely.

Somewhere along our path was this interesting sign.

More deers after a couple turns. While it was cool to have wild animals roaming around, the place did smell like animals and you have to be careful of stepping in crap too.

Now we are getting somewhere. In the lower left hand corner of the photo, you can see a stall that sold deer biscuits for ¥150. You get about 3 pieces. There were quite a number of these places where you can buy food to feed the deers.

Very old and weathered architecture.

Moving on pass the gate. Spot the deer in this photo.

On the same path, but once you pass the stalls and trees, the right side had a beautiful body of water. As you can see, the weather had also cleared up completely.

In the photo is the gate to Toudaiji, a massive temple. By now, I have already forgotten about its historic and cultural significance. It is big and there are big statues inside, and that is really all I remember about this place.

The official entrance into the temple grounds was somewhere else, so we had to go around.

At last, one of our main destinations, Toudaiji. We arrived at 2pm.

As you can tell by now, this thing is massive!

Once you go up the steps and look inside, you will be face to face with this Buddhist statue.

And this is how big the statue is.

This is how big the statue really is.

Thanks to my friend for standing there as a size reference. If you stand right behind the statue and look up, the tremendous difference in scale can really disorient you.

Various other statues inside the temple.

It is a shame that I somehow forgot to take a picture of it, but one of the supporting pillars in the temple has a gaping hole through it near the floor. It is big enough for 1 person to crawl through the pillar at a time. It is said that you get good luck from doing so, I think.

One corner of the room had some very detailed models.

More insanely detailed models.

In another corner inside the temple, there was a place where you can buy a wooden plate to write your wishes on and then hang it up as shown. Some people draw on these plates as well. I have always wondered, is it considered impolite to read them? I quickly snapped the photo and only read whatever the photo captured.

After seeing everything inside the temple, we head back out the same way we came. But before we leave the doorway in front of the giant statue, the view was just gorgeous so I took a couple photos.

The landscape was a real treat to the eyes. I would say that the outside was nicer to look at than the inside.

On our way to the next destination, we caught a deer trying to sweeten up on someone for food. The deer was brushing its head on the person’s leg. No, this was not a tackle.

Time to play with some deers. My friend was holding an umbrella because it looked like it was going to rain earlier.

My friend’s very brief experience with feeding the deers. 3 pieces of deer biscuits were all he had.

No, my camera is not food.

The deer is sniffing my friend’s pockets.

That tiny one underneath the sign in the back looks cute.

Alright, moving on. Let’s climb some hills.

Was this one of our planned destinations? I have no idea what this place is called.

There was a number of people on the balcony, so we decided to check this place out regardless.

That’s quite a number of steps. Don’t fall.

From the balcony, the view was really nice.

On the left, you can see the city. And on the right, if you look really closely, you can see what appears to be a roller coaster track on the horizon. Looks like there might have been an amusement park not too far away.

We headed back down and moved towards our next target.

One of the places we passed by was this shrine.

After walking uphill for some time, we reached an area with a lot of wonderful greenery. The dappled sunlight through the tree canopies made the location nicely shaded and remarkably beautiful. In addition, you could heard the calls of numerous birds up above.

Apparently this was where we were. We need to make our way towards Kasuga-taisha.

A whole bunch of deers resting in the shade.

It was a moderately hot day, and this vending machine knew what we like. I don’t remember if I actually bought any, but I know my friend did.

I think that we got a little lost around here.

Is this Kasuga-taisha? The walkway continued for a long time. This place confused me quite a bit.

We spotted an open door and inside, people gathered around to take photos of some purple flowers, so I thought that I did do the same. The place had some strong fragrance.

So…I think we are done here? Time to head back.

On our way back, we walked through a street filled with stalls that sold some delicious smelling food.

I finally could not hold in my temptation any longer and bought something from this stall. If you can read the stall’s banner, then you would know that I bought some ikayaki, or grilled calamari.

This looks so good! Besides this ikayaki, other stalls sold food like ringo-ame and something covered in chocolate.

Om nom nom.

While I was sitting down and enjoying my squid, a deer snuck up behind me and poked me in the back. I think it was after my squid.

At last, when we finally returned to the train station, there was a certain store nearby…

Yeah, I’m helpless in this regard. I browsed for quite a while and I ended up buying some Ika Musume aluminum badges. They were pretty expensive for just 2 small badges, but they did look really nice.

The last thing that I bought on the way home was some ice cream from McDonalds. I had a bit of trouble ordering it because for some weird reason, this McDonald’s ice cream in Japan is called Soft Twist. And the moon was very bright that night. We returned to the dorm at around 8:30pm.

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