March 17, 2009

Catching Up On The Weekend - Back to Nara With Our Company

On Saturday we went to the ancient capital of Nara. Nara is set in a big park, and has some of the oldest wooden temples around. The famous Todaiji temple houses a 15 meter tall Great Buddha of Nara, one of the largest Buddha statues in the world. It is also famous for its wandering deer. (The Nara mascot is a blend of Buddha and Deer. While it makes sense, its still kind of bizarre.)

It had been over a year since we had last been to Nara. And the last (and only) time we went to Nara, it was rainy and cold. And we thought it would be a good cultural/historical spot to show Dave and Heather. Of course, as morning broke it was pouring rain. (What is it with our trips to Nara and rain?!). It was still raining buckets when we got to Nara, bought umbrellas, and began a slow wet walk towards the temples. Fortunately, just as we arrived at the first temple, Kofoku-ji, the sun broke out, and blue skies (complete with puffy white clouds) emerged. Kokfuku-ji is famous for its 5-story pagoda.

We hung out with our first (but not last) deer of the day on the temple grounds.

On our way out of the temple grounds, we heard some taiko drumming, and happened upon a big parade/festival at the Government Office. It was a very cool find. People dressed in traditional outfits (although some were dressed as deer), music, and great drumming.

Afterwards, we made our way to Isuien Garden, a traditional Japanese garden near Todaiji. It was fun to wander through this extremely peaceful (even with our kids there!) place.

After the garden, we made our way on to Todaiji. Here are Dave and Heather, with Jacob and Lauren, in front of Todaiji, which houses the Big Buddha.

As we walked out near the main gates, Heather attracted a whole mess of deer (At the kids urging, she bought deer food - crackers). And these guys are pushy when they see food. To say the least. It is hugely entertaining to watch the deer take things out of peoples pockets, follow them around, and nip at their clothing looking for food. As long as its not you! (Mike learned his lesson from last time, and did not buy any of those deer crackers. Not a chance.)

On our way out, we walked by some of the scenic ponds and through more of Nara Park. Check out this deer on a sculpture down in one of the brooks:

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