As I said in my last post, after a second night spent awake between 2 and 4am I awoke later than hoped. I had originally planned to visit Kyoto on my second day in Japan, but as I woke late I changed my plans and opted to switch two days around and head to Nara instead.
I didn't have any specific locations in mind when I set out, and other than roughly following a single day itinerary of Nara I sort of just wandered up a long road through the park areas.
Nara is a very picturesque city, even the streets in the centre of town have an interesting charm to them, strangely they reminded me of Reykjavik, I'm not sure why though. A large portion of Nara is built around park land where semi wild deer roam around freely.
I spent quite a while trying to take a selfie with the deer, those who follow me on Instagram will have seen my remarkably poor results. Having spent the day getting progressively more frustrated with the critters it wasn't until I was wandering back to the train station before I realised I hadn't taken a proper picture of them, so before I go on too much, here we have a fairly bad shot of some deer just to prove that they exist and that I did see them.
Back to the main portion of the day though, after wandering past park land and admiring the scenery I came to Todai-ji. A temple that I am very pleased that I ventured toward. The first I saw of the place was (amid a mass of tourists) The Great Southern Gate, or Nandaimon Gate.
A massive wooden structure that seems to mark the entrance to the grounds of the temple. Inside, at each side are gigantic statues that stand guard. They are covered by a mesh that, although very transparent in nature, gets in the way of photographs so I didn't take any of them.
Upon traversing through Nandaimon gate I came up to the entrance gate to the courtyard surrounding The Great Bhudda Hall. And upon traversing through that (and paying a small entrance fee) I was greeted by the sight of this building.
This was the first temple I properly laid eyes on. Having watched various anime and played video games with Japanese themes I've been introduced to Japanese architecture and the idea of temples before. Being introduced, and being prepared for the real thing are somewhat dissimilar; I was most definitely taken aback. It also started to snow at this point which was pleasing to the eye.
The two things I hadn't quite grasped were, firstly the fact that these temples are not single standing entities, they are a collection of buildings large and small, distributed on large areas of land (further evidenced by today's trip to Kyoto); and secondly, the anime I have watched, and the video games I have played do not (as assumed) exaggerate on the size of these temples. But if the size of the building outside isn't impressive enough, just have a look at what's housed inside it.
Meet Daibutsu; The Great Buddha. I'll be honest, because everything in this room is enormous, my photo doesn't really convey the scale of this particularly well, until you spot the chap at the alter (might not be an altar).
This statue of Buddha is made of bronze, and standing at 15 meters tall it is the world's largest of its kind. It weighs in at 500 metric tons.
Standing guard over Daibutsu in the corners of the main hall are two statues of Komokuten, at least I think they are both Komokuten. He sees through evil and punishes it whilst encouraging enlightenment.
He's a fearsome bugger too!
That was pretty much all I did in Nara, after wandering around the temple grounds a bit more I headed back to the train station. My hands were freezing (remember that snow I told you about) and I was getting hungry so a trip back to the Hostel seemed like a good idea to re assess my plans for a visit to Kyoto...