On sunday, it is a trip to Nara. Nara is the first capital for Japan for a few decades before it is moved to Kyoto. Nara city centre is a 40 minutes train ride south of Kyoto. We took the Kintetsu line instead of the JR as it brings us straight to the city centre instead of 1km west. The train departed at 9.55am, costing 610Yen for the Express trip, and arrive at 10.40am. We acquired some information on Nara from the Tourist Information Centre and the friendly staff advised us on the entire walking route (which is similar to what I have in mind).
Here is the entrance to Nara station.
Just out of Nara station is a shopping street which has lots of restaurants and shops. As we haven't had our breakfast yet, we settled our brunch at one of the restaurants.
I ordered a Sushi Tempura udon set which cost only 1000Yen. Check out the size of this set meal! Perfect for brunch.
Walking out from the shopping street is the first temple sight - Kohfukuji(興福寺). This temple is famous for its pagoda which dates back from the 15th century. It is the second tallest pagoda in Japan. (It misses its top mark to Toji in Kyoto by a few centimetres).
Walking out Kohfukuji and along the main street, we arrived at Nara Garden. Nara Garden is renown for its thousands of deer wandering through the park. There are vendors selling deer biscuits for 150Yen (6 pieces). The red autumn leaves can also been seen in many parts of the park too.
Here I am feeding the deers. Once they know you have food, they will start swamping over.
At Nara Garden is the main gate to the next temple sight. The gate has 2 enormous and intimidating statues for the God of Wind and God of Thunder. Past the main gate is a beautiful garden lake with a shinto shrine in the middle.
The main highlight for the day - Todaiji (東大寺). I'm not sure about u guys, but I can't take my eyes off the Todaiji photo. It really looks stunning. There is a beautiful mix of colours in it, with the deep blue sky, the green grass at the foreground and the red autumn tree to the right plus the majestic temple structure in the middle. The timing is really perfect when I took the photo. And the weather is simply fabulous. It really feels like this place is blessed by the compassion of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
Here is a photo of me and Kim-san with Todaiji as the backdrop.
The Daibutsu (大仏) - Big Buddha of Todaiji. It is said that the present statue and temple hall is only 2/3 the size of the original. But standing in front of the Buddha is really awe-inspiring. It is truly magnificant.
Once we have circled the Buddha clockwise, we came upon this interesting wooden column with a small hole at the base. It is said that whoever can squeeze through the hole will be guaranteed of enlightenment. We see most of the children trying it out easily.
To the east of Todaiji are two halls - Nigatsu and Sangatsu (February and March). Nigatsu-do offers a good view of Nara.
Just next to Sangatsu-do is a shinto shrine. There are many beautiful autumn leaves in this shrine, with photographers jostling for a good photo shot. Here is my take in it.
Further south from Sangatsu-do is the Kasuga Taisha. This shrine has strong imperial links since the 8th century. The priestesses of this imperial shrine has to dorn a tiara.
At the entrance to the shrine are many lamps where visitors make light offerings to.
We walked back to the train station past Nara Garden again. A brief side trip is made south of the garden where we marvel at the vast field, multi-colored leaves and the darkening sky.
We took the 4pm Limited Express ride from Nara to Kyoto, costing 1,110Yen instead. On the way back, I took a sun-down scene from the train. Coincidentally just as we left Nara, it started drizzling.