My first trip to NARA (Kofukuji, Todaiji Temples)

It was in April 2012 that I first visited Nara. We stayed in Ryokan(Japanese style inn) during our two-day Kyoto-Nara trip. It was raining when we walked through the streets of Nara. As we reached the Nara park, the deer came in folks smelling on our bags. The freely roaming deer of Nara park is the main attraction of this place.As it was raining, they were very less in number and they were wet. Touching on their head left wet fur on my hands.

There were a lot of street vendors with Deer Biscuits. As soon as we bought some biscuits, they came running to grab it. These are wild deer which came down from the mountains to feed on the grass and Shika Senbei (Deer biscuits) given by the visitors. We can see a lot of small and big deer roaming around all around the Nara park and surrounding areas.

Kofukuji temple.

Kofukuji was one of the Four Great Temples of the Nara period. A five-storeyed pagoda and many Buddhist art treasures are the historical features of this place. In 1998, Kofukuji Temple was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Being the headquarters of the Hosso school in Japan, it is one of the most important Buddhist temples of the nation.

Todaiji temple

From there, we moved to the Todaiji temple. An entry ticket is needed to get inside the temple. Todaiji is one of Japan’s most famous and historically significant temples. It is a landmark of Nara. Constructed in 752, it is the head temple of all provincial Buddhist temples of Japan. Japan’s largest Buddha statue (Daibutsu) is housed here. Made of bronze and gold, this 16 meters tall statue is one among the largest bronze statues in the world.

Inside the Temple main hall (Daibutsuden), there is a very thick wooden pillar with a hole in it. It has the same size as the Budha statue’s nostril. There is a belief that if you can pass through this hole, you will attain enlightenment in the next life. A big queue of visitors, especially kids could be seen there who are making a try to get through it. There is a small souvenir shop near to the great pillar.

There were so many Ema with various pictures and writings in different languages hanged there. These are small wooden plates where people write their prayers to the Lord and hang it on a board at one side of the temple.

It was still raining as we walked towards a shrine up a hill. On the way, there was a bell tower with a huge bell which can be rung by pulling off a big wooden rod hanged in front of it. Inside the building, which was also like a temple, there were some statues, a purification through etc. Once we were about to leave the place, it was a little sunny when many deer came down the hill running behind the visitors.