Nara is the site of the first permanent capital of Japan, and remained as such for a little less than a century. However, the effect that took place on Japanese culture during the Nara Period, is what makes Nara so important. It was a time of emulating Chinese culture, even using Chinese characters, and adopting Buddhism. Most of what there is to see in Nara are of the oldest sights in all of Japan, and many of them very important for Japan’s later development. There are also a lot of deer.
Kofukuji was the first temple within reach in Nara Koen (Park), but its main building was being worked on. The treasure hall, which is now a museum, holds many incredibly ancient artifacts and statues of Bodhisattva. Sadly, pictures weren’t allowed inside.
On our way to the next major sight, Todaiji, we learned that it was a special day and there would be a celebration at night. We decided to eat and head over to Yamato-Koriyama Castle, which failed miserably, and I’m putting into another post. So when we came back, we headed over to Todaiji, which houses the Daibutsu, a very large statue of Buddha. It was to be lit for that night and everyone was going to be allowed to go in to see it.
We headed through the park afterwards down a path lined first with candlelights that were set out, then with wood lanterns then with old stone lanterns going towards Kasuga Taisha Shrine. Since it was pitch black, I had to break my number one rule and use the flash. We bought a small traditional Japanese style lantern while we walked, but all we could think about was the pain our feet were in. On our way back, we agreed that if we saw a cab we’d take it, we were in so much pain. We missed out on two of them, and then we passed the rickshaw guys. I’ve always felt REALLY strange about the idea of taking a rickshaw anywhere, but it was that important for us not to walk. Besides the guy was really nice, and it reminded me more of NY peticabs than central park’s expensive touristy carriage crap. So I don’t feel bad about it, just weird.