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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Day 167: More temples in Nara

JAPAN | Sunday, 20 April 2008 | Views [706]

Pagoda and gardens in Nara

Pagoda and gardens in Nara

Sunday 20th April

All of us were clearly tired and we didn't get up until later than planned, putting paid to our intentions of going further afield to the temples of Koyasan, a couple of hours away from Osaka. Instead, we chose to make a trip to Nara, another culturally and historically important city which, like Kyoto, was a former capital of Japan and home to several UNESCO World Heritage sites. However, Nara was closer to Osaka and a much better option considering we now had less time to play with.

It took less than an hour to get from Osaka to Nara on the train and when we arrived we set off in the direction of the Nara-Koen park and temple complex on another fine spring day. The sun was out, as were large numbers of tourists, and it all made for a very nice atmosphere. A lot of families enjoy the wide open spaces and the wild deer that roam freely all over this eastern part of Nara.

The main attraction in Nara is the Todai-ji temple, particularly the Daibatsu-den Hall which is apparently the largest wooden building in the world (it's a reasonable claim as its sheer size is breath-taking on first sight). There are several other huge structures surrounding the temple, including the Nandai-mon, a huge gate which is guarded by two massive carved wooden giants standing on either flank of this entrance. Inside the Daibatsu-den Hall is a massive Buddha, one of the largest of the many Buddha statues I had seen over the previous couple of months.

Kumi, Pete and I took a stroll around before having some food, and then headed to Kagusa Taisha, a place which is surrounded by hundreds of stone lanterns and not a few wild deer. Again, it was a beautiful place and there were fewer people about at this less popular location, and this made for a more peaceful walk. Unfortunately for Pete, his hay fever was playing up quite badly (due to the especially nasty pollen given off by the cedar trees), and he was keen to get away from the forest as quickly as possible.

We headed in the direction of home, all three of us falling asleep at some stage on the train, no doubt due to the long walk and fresh air. We grabbed some food at the supermarket and ate dinner at the flat, which was the first full meal I had had outside of a restaurant or a cafe in the three months since I had been in Singapore, and it was actually really good, a very welcome change. Once again, I was pretty tired after a long day of walking and sightseeing, and it was good to relax for a few hours before heading to bed.


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