Oh! My Deer! (Kansai, Japan Trip 2012, Day 7)

No, it’s not a typo error. You’ve read it correctly, it’s really D-E-E-R. Can you guess which place in Japan I’m writing on today? It’s Nara! It’s famous for its Nara Park (aka deer park) and Todai-ji (东大寺).

At Nara Park, you can see many deer roaming around freely. They are know to be messengers of gods in Shinto. These deer are quite used to tourists taking photos and will usually ignore you. However, the minute you take out a bag of crackers (senbei) to feed them, the deer become more “aggressive” and many will just encircle you and want to snatch the crackers from your hands. My advice: Just take photos and forget about feeding them!

Todai-ji is a famous, historical landmark in Nara. It was the head temple of all provincial Buddhist temples of Japan. Its main hall, Daibutsuden (大仏殿) is one of the world’s largest wooden building. It houses a Great Buddha statue that is 15 m. One of the attractions here is a pillar which has a hole at its base the same size as the nostril of the Great Buddha. It is said that those who can squeeze through this opening will be granted enlightenment in their next reincarnation. And mind you, there were many of us queueing up just to have a try at squeezing through the opening and it was fun! 😀

We also visited Kasuga Grand Shrine (春日大社).The path leading up to the Shrine was lined with stone lanterns and you can catch sights of deer in the surrounding park. We took our lunch there at the Manyo Botanical Gardens (万叶植物园) and had the famous Manyo Porridge (万叶粥). The restaurant, Kasuga Ninai Chaya (春日荷茶屋), serves different types of manyo porridge every month. Since we went in April, our porridge had sakura flowers and black glutinous rice cake. 🙂

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Nara’s map:

mapTodai-ji (Daibutsuden):

8:00 to 16:30 (November to February)
8:00 to 17:00 (March)
7:30 to 17:30 (April to September)
7:30 to 17:00 (October)

No closing days

500 yen

Kasuga Taisha:

6:00 to 18:00 (April to September) 6:30 to 17:30 (October to March)

No closing days

Free (outer area), 500 yen (inner area)

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