Whew! This has been an action packed trip. As much as I’ve loved it, I’m ready to head home. I will definitely get myself back to Japan for another visit. what a great country.
For my finale, I went to the original capitol of Japan, the city of Nara. I actually went with a (mostly) English speaking guide for this leg of the journey and didn’t have to make up explanations for things like I did the rest of the trip 🙂
First of all, people in Nara consider deer messengers from the gods. They are sacred. To that end, they roam all over town and people feed them and pet them. The whole town has a deer theme, sort of like the foxes at the Inari Shrine. They are actually so used to people feeding them, that they can get rude about it. I saw one nip a school girl in the butt and had more than a few head butt me for food. They do this begging ritual that’s pretty funny. They will nod their heads at you to get you to give them food. Here’s a picture my guide took of me being mobbed by them. BTW, they are microdeer. They are about half the size of our deer.
Deer Mob! (C) by Tracy McCabe Stewart
They're Everywhere! They're Everywhere! (C) by Tracy McCabe Stewart
My guide then took me to this pond; which looks like no great shakes, but it is the site where the Emperor’s lover though she had lost the love of the Emperor (he’d found another woman) So she drowns herself in this pond-which is only about 2 feet deep, by the way. They appease her spirit by having a parade every year, electing a woman to represent her and cruising around this little pond in a long boat. They have ashrine (of course) right by the pond, where people put prayers about love gone wrong. I wish I could have seen all that!
Drowning Pond (C) by Tracy McCabe Stewart
We spent the rest of the tour in the Todai-ji , Buddhist Temple complex: Home of the Giant Buddha-Okay that’s not how they refer to it. All these temple/shrine complexes have numerous buildings for various different rituals-sometimes only used a few times a year. All the buildings were beautiful, but I won’t show all that many pictures of them because, unlike all the other places I’ve been…….
THEY LET ME TAKE PICTURES INSIDE! WHOOHOO!
As you pass through the first Torii gate that marks the boundary into the sacred space, all of the set up is for purification. You can stop at these shrines and cleanse with water or leave a prayer, etc. All of it is meant for the “other” world to drop away.
Path up to the shrine (c) Tracy McCabe Stewart
They used to light these lanterns every night. Now, only twice a year.
One of the fountains for purification (c) Tracy McCabe Stewart
More fountains (c) Tracy McCabe Stewart
yet another, aren’t they beautiful?
Are We Pure Yet? (c) Tracy McCabe Stewart
I could show you a zillion more of these! Anyway,
Here’s the main attraction-The Great Hall. This place is GINORMOUS! It’s 18 meters high and pretty much all it houses is Buddha and a couple of pals:
I forget what this guy was called, but Buddha cast him out for some reason or another. Anyway, it doesn’t stop people from believing that he will heal their bodies. Your supposed to touch the corresponding part on him that is afflicted on you. I think anyone can only reach his knees, and that’s why the Japanese can sit like they do!
Creepy Healing Guy (c) Tracy McCabe Stewart
and the big guy himself:
Buddha! (c) Tracy McCabe Stewart
I know you can’t really get the scale of this. He is 50 feet tall. Each one of his hair curls is a meter across. That’s bigger hair than I have! His hand is as tall as I am. He is way cool.
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t really understand the whole many faces of Buddha thing, but Buddha is flanked by these other Buddha guys. Sorry to all Buddhists for the butchering of their religion. Here’s one of the other guys.
Other Buddha Guy (c) Tracy McCabe Stewart
and then there are these guards that judge who is ready for enlightenment. They look a bit heavy handed for Buddhism, but there you go. This one is crushing demons with his feet. BTW, they are about 30 feet tall. this whole place was a demonstration of BIG. See the demons under his feet?
I forget what else he’s doing, but he has a pagoda in his hand:
Other Guard Guy (c) Tracy McCabe Stewart
The lighting was too bad to get the other one.
Tomorrow I am back to Chicago. The blog may get a bit boring after all this adventure.