Tōdaiji Temple

Located in Nara province, Tōdaiji, the “Great Eastern Temple” is one of Japan’s most famous and historically significant temples.

The temple was built in 752 as the head temple of all provincial Buddhist temples of Japan.

It grew so powerful that the capital was moved from Nara to Nagaoka in 784 to try and reduce the temple’s influence on government affairs.

P1130633

Todaiji’s main hall, the Daibutsuden ( AKA Big Buddha Hall) is the world’s largest wooden building, even more incredible is that the present version is only two thirds of the original temple hall’s size.

The massive building houses one of Japan’s largest bronze statues of Buddha (Daibutsu).

The 15 metres tall, serene seated Buddha represents Vairocana and is flanked by two Bodhisattvas. It’s an impressive sight as you head into the dim exterior of the hall.

The statue’s shoulders are 28 meters across and there are 960 six curls on its head.

Below we can see another huge wooden statue, this time of Pindola Bharadvaja (or Binzuru in Japanese).

There is a belief that if you have a bodily ailment, you must rub the corresponding  part of Pindola, then rub the same part on yourself and it will be cured. Hence the somewhat weathered condition of this old deity.

It’s an impressive place, especially in the gorgeous sunshine – shame I am gurning hideously – it somewhat detracts from the lovely building behind us!!

20161010_152700

Nibbly Nara Deers

We’re off to see some more of Japan’s famed wildlife now with a trip to Nara.

Due to its past as the first permanent capital Nara remains full of historic treasures, including some of Japan’s oldest and largest temples.

But it’s also famous for its resident deer. Hence these cute little cartoon critters.

P1130650

According to the legendary history of Kasuga Shrine, the god Takemikazuchi arrived in Nara on a white deer to guard the newly built capital of Heijō-kyō.

20161010_170940

Since then the deer have been regarded as heavenly animals, protecting the city and the country.

Although as this sign clearly warns, they do not always act like heavenly little creatures…

20161010_164818

In 2015 there were more than 1,200 sika deer in Nara. Snack vendors sell sika senbeid (deer crackers) to visitors so they can feed them.

Apparently some deer have learned to bow to people after receiving senbei. However these seem to prefer to just ambush people from the shrubbery!!

They may look doe eyed and docile but these little guys can be very persistent and we did witness several small children screaming as they fled for their tiny lives with the deer in hot pursuit!

Drop the crackers kids – drop the crackers!!!

Next we’re heading to the impressive Todaiji Temple, a massive wooden temple with humongous Buddha statue.

P1130590

Here’s a few more snaps of our doe eyed little followers. Who hang around looking cute in the hope of crackers.

But they don’t manage to be quite as adorable as this little cartoon fella!!!

P1130647