Nara is a great day trip from Kyoto. Its only an hours journey on the efficient Japanese trains.
There’s plenty to see – temples, shrines, deer, and for a change of pace, the earthquake centre.
Nara park is full of deer that are free to roam throughout the park. You can buy special crackers to feed them so they are very tame and will come up to you if you look as if you have food.
The Todac-Ji Temple is the most famous. Originally built in 752 by Emperor Shomu to create a centre for Buddhism in Japan it’s opening was attended by ten thousand monks but it has been rebuilt twice. It houses a fifteen metre high bronze Buddha weighing five hundred tons. Relics from Emperor Shomu have been found inside the Buddhas knee. There is a wooden pillar inside and if you can squeeze through the hole you will be granted enlightenment in the next life. JP did it but I didn’t even attempt it, no enlightenment for me then.
This sorin is a finial usually found on the top of a pagoda. Don’t know why this one is on the ground. This binzuru statues has healing powers but looks much too scary to touch!
Nigatsu-do hall or Hall of the Second Month is set on a hill so there are great views from this peaceful place.
As a change from temples the Okumura Commemorative Museum is a great place to spend half an hour. They encourage you to sit and rest with a free cup of tea then you can see the latest technology to protect buildings from earthquakes. The staff are lovely and really want to explain things to you but their English is very limited. This didn’t stop us trying out the simulator chair where you can experience different kinds of earth quake quite safely.
So that was Japan. As it was so expensive we only stayed a week but we hardly scratched the surface. I would love to spend more time in Tokyo but with a guide then maybe some of it would make more sense!