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Autumn Nara, day 1

Since we were tired after the long travel and late bedtime, we woke up pretty late and only left the hotel at about 11am.

Nara hotel lobby
This is how the hotel lobby looks like.

Guesthouse Nara Komachi
And this is our hotel from outside.

BTW the hotel has a great location, close to the Nara station and transportation/shopping. Also the owners were very friendly and helpful.

Unfortunately the day was cloudy, but nevertheless we headed towards our first place for today, Kofukuji temple, which was about 1km from our hotel, so we decided to just walk there.

Nara streets

Nara streets
Nara streets on the way.

Stairs to Tofukuji
And finally - the Kofukuji stairs.

Wash basin with a dragon at Tofukuji
Traditional wash basin with a dragon.

Kofukuji was founded in 669 by Fujiwara family in Yamashina Suehara (now Kyoto) then moved a few times and finally settled in Nara in 710 as the Imperial court moved to Nara as well.

The later emperors added to the temple and at the height of its power the entire compound was covering more than 10 acres (4.04 hectares). None of the buildings survived to this day, though, destroyed many times in wars and accidents and then rebuilt later.

Tofukuji
South octagonal hall.

Dressed up dogs at Tofukuji
Nearby we met these dressed up dogs.

5-story pagoda
Five story pagoda from south octagonal hall. It was built by consort of Emperor Shomu.

People at Tofukuji
A bit later we also saw a couple of girls in traditional Japanese dresses. They also stopped by to check the dogs ;)

Near the South octagonal hall we also noticed an announcement that the Three storied pagoda and North Octagonal Hall (both Registered national treasure sites) are open to public for a month ending on Nov 23 - the day we were there, so we jumped at the opportunity to see what's it all about and headed there. (In general these national treasure sites are only open only once or twice a year for a short duration).

Deers at Tofukuji
Near the hall we saw a few deers.

Deers at Tofukuji

Tofukuji National Treasure exhibit
The North octagonal hall and the tickets. (300 yen per person)

Tofukuji National Treasure exhibit
The entrance to the hall.

Pictures inside are forbidden. But basically there are 9 really old statues inside. One Miroku Nyorai (Maitreya) and around him are the Four Heavenly Kings (dated around 791) and four bosatsu (1208-1212).

The four heavenly kings statues are especially interesting and amongst them the Jikoku-ten is the most cool, even though all of them lack their weapons.

Tofukuji National Treasure exhibit
Still managed to take this one technically from outside of the hall, but the four heavenly kings are nearly not visible (to the right is Tamon-ten).

Actually, postcards to the rescue! Here are the cool Kings!

HeavenlyKings1
Komoku-ten and Jikoku-ten (right)

HeavenlyKings2
Zocho-ten (left) and Tamon-ten

Then we headed towards the three storied pagoda.

Tofukuji three-storied pagoda
Tickets to the pagoda. (300 yen per person)

Tofukuji three-storied pagoda

Tofukuji three-storied pagoda
A line have formed to see the inside. And inside there are 4 pictures containing 1000 images of a particular deity each. Yakushi Nyorai (east),Shaka Nyorai (south), Amida Nyorai (west), and Miroku (north). The images are really magnificient.

Jiso at Tofukuji
Returning back to the main stairs.

Tablets at Tofukuji

Tangerine tree at Tofukuji
Near the South octagonal hall there are some tangerine trees.

Tofukuji
People ring the bell and donate money at the Southert Octagonal Hall. Inside are some old statues with the National Treasure status, and the building itself is open to public one day only on October 17th of every year.

Five storied pagoda
Five storied pagoda again. This is the second highest pagoda in Japan at the moment (50.1 meters high). The original building did not survive and this is a restoration completed in 1426.

Deers at Tofukuji
At the steps of the five storied pagoda we saw another couple of deers.

Five storied pagoda and some hall
Five storied pagoda and East Buddha's hall. Also at the right there was some sort of a 3D camera taking pictures, not sure what it was all about.

 

Tickets to Main hall
Tickets to the East Buddha's hall. Inside were more old statues. (800 yen per person for double tickets here and to the Treasure hall).

And just before going there we also visited the Treasure hall where a lot more of old statues and such were on display. Some were truly magnificent, like demons with lanterns or a huge Avalakishvara or the many other old statues. Of course both places did not allow any pictures.

Again, postcards to the rescue. Here are the lantern-bearing demons at least:

LanternDemons

Ninja shoes shop
After seeing the temple we returned to the street to eat something and found this "Ninja shoes" shop ;)

Cheburashka merchandise in Nara
Another shop, Cheburashka is present everywhere in a lot of forms.

Deer skins at a Nara shop
Deer skins in a shop.

Cake hairpin
Cake hairpin ;)

Katsudon
And finally we got to eat some food. Katsudon for me.

Tempura Udon
And tempura udon for Ksusha (and she really likes udon).

Rickshaw in Nara
Got outside to see this rickshaw climbing uphill under a red tree.

From here we headed to Todaiji via Nara park.

Tree in moss
A tree covered in moss.

Funny children in Nara
Nara park, children are playful everywhere I guess ;)

Deers in Nara park
Nara park is known for its deers, of which there are many. The deers are all wild and freely roam around. Over 1200 wild deers are living in the park and around. According to a local legend, one of the four gods of Kasuga shrine have appeared nearby riding a white deer and since then all deers there were considered sacred. Killing one of the deers was a capital offense punished by death. Last recorded enforcement of this was in 1637.

Deer feeding in Nara park
In the park you can buy special deer cookies and feed the deers.

Deer feeding in Nara park

And people do feed them the cookies of course.

Deer feeding in Nara park

Deer feeding in Nara park

Deer feeding in Nara park

Deers in Nara park

Ksusha feeds deers in Nara park

Ksusha feeds deers in Nara park
We also participated (10 cookies pack is 150 yen).

п я│я▌я┬п╟ п╨п╬я─п╪п╦я┌ п╬п╩п╣п╫п╣п╦л├ п╡ п©п╟я─п╨п╣ п²п╟я─я▀

п я│я▌я┬п╟ п╨п╬я─п╪п╦я┌ п╬п╩п╣п╫п╣п╦л├ п╡ п©п╟я─п╨п╣ п²п╟я─я▀
The deers seemed very gentle and even bowed with their head asking for the cookies.

п я│я▌я┬п╟ п╨п╬я─п╪п╦я┌ п╬п╩п╣п╫п╣п╦л├ п╡ п©п╟я─п╨п╣ п²п╟я─я▀
Also licked ;)

Ksusha feeds deers in Nara park
The deer horns were recently removed.

Deers in Nara park

Done with the deers in the park we continued on our way to Todaiji.

Baked potato vendor in Nara park
Street vendor selling hot sweet potatoes (very popular Japanese street food).

Road to Todaiji
Road to Todaiji was very crowded.

Deers near Todaiji
And there were a lot of deers around too.

Old deer and an old man near Todaiji
Old man feeding an old deer.

Demon with lantern reproduction

Demon with lantern reproduction
Reproductions of two demons with lanterns.

Deer in Nara park

Deer in Nara park

Picturing a deer in Nara park

Butting deers in Nara park
Two deers even decided to do some butting.

Todaiji gate
Todaiji gate.

Heavenly Kings in Todaiji Gate

Heavenly Kings in Todaiji Gate
Within the gate there are two huge statues of the Heavenly Kings protecting it.

Young deer
A young deer.

Deers in Nara park

And finally some fall colors, though not nearly as nice during a rain.

Nara park fall colors

Nara park fall colors

Nara park fall colors

Nara park fall colors

People and deers in Nara park
People were actively taking pictures with the deers.

Deer chewing a chain in Nara park
Chewing on some metal chains, don't know why. Lack of iron? ;)

Todaiji building
Todaiji itself.

Heavenly kings in the other Todaiji gate
And directly in front of Todaiji was another gate with the other two Heavenly Kings.

Heavenly kings in the other Todaiji gate

It turned out that we have arrived here only about 30 minutes before the closure, so there was no sense to go inside and we decided to return tomorrow.

Schoolchildren on the way to Todaiji

Schoolchildren on the way to Todaiji
Nonetheless lots of schoolchildren groups were still coming as we headed out.

Nara manhoel cover
Manhole cover in Nara.

Nara shopping street near Kintetsunara station
Shopping street near KintetsuNara station we stopped by.

A buddhist monk fountain near Kintetsunara station
And a fountain there.

Woven Japanese miniatures

Woven Japanese miniatures
Some tiny souvenirs made from fabric in a shop.

Tonkatsu dish
We had dinner in a tonkatsu restaurant near the Kintetsunara station before heading to our hotel.

And that concludes the first day in Nara.

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