Distractions, reflections

David Ing, at large … Sometimes, my mind wanders

2007/07/26 Nara Park deer, Big Buddha at Toda-ji

On our second day in Japan, we hopped on the bus to Kyoto Station, and navigated to the south platforms for the Kintetsu-Nara line. We went into the train office to ask directions, and were told the precise time that the next train would leave for Yamato-Saidaiji, where we could then change for a local train to Nara.

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The train change was easy, but when we arrived at Nara Station, it took a few minutes to orient ourselves to the bus stops. When we figured out that we wanted a bus westbound (uphill), we tried to board using our Kansai Thru Pass. Discovering that Nara buses don’t accept the pass, we dropped a few coins in the box. The bus ambled up hill and made a few stops. Just guessing that we actually had entered Nara Park, we took a chance and got off the bus. We saw some of the famous deer across the field to the north.

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The entry to Toda-ji was just south of the field. On our way towards the temple, we noticed deer looking for food from tourists, and a woman was surprised as the deer tried to get into her purse.

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Turning west on the walk towards the temple, vendors sell food for the deer from carts. The deer know there’s food nearby, so they hang out waiting.

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Ancient Nara is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with a large market to denote that. Deer lounge nearby.

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Farther down the walk, the number of deer declined. A herd of another species approached.

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At a young age, it may be hard to tell boys from girls in those hats, so it’s good that their uniforms are different colours.

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The admission to the Toda-ji temple was at the left of the main gate.

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Inside the front gate was an urn for burning incense, common in Buddhism.

20070725_Toda-Ji_gate_incense.jpg

The big Buddha is inside the main hall at Toda-ji.

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Approaching the main hall, the water basin representing Shinto was popular on the hot and humid day.

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Just before entering the main hall was another urn for incense.

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The Buddha is immediately at the front entrance to the hall, making photographs difficult without an extremely wide angle lens.

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To the left of the Buddha is a Bodhisattva.

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Continuing the left, in the back corner of the main hall, is a guardian.

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Circling to the other back corner was another guardian.

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Near the front entry are stalls selling temple souvenirs. One more permanent option is the purchase of roof tiles.

20070725_Toda-Ji_tiles.jpg

Diana was interested in the wide selection of charms, at a slightly better price than those we had seen in other temples. Most helpful were the labels that translated the specific charms into English: health; health and longevity; life support; fertility; easy birth; luck; protection against evil; cure for disease.

20070725_Toda-Ji_charms_DY.jpg

Around the corner, the selection of charms continued: protection against misfortune; giving you a partner in life; good relationships; good academics; passing an examination.

20070725_Toda-Ji_charms.jpg

Priests up on the altar are barefoot. The rows of slippers at the foot of the stairs were orderly.

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Outside the main hall was also a large pond to the north and east.
20070725_Toda-Ji _pond.jpg

Toda-ji is one of the most popular attractions at Nara, and in Japan. For us, watching the deer was as much of the experience as entering the temple.

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