Day 19: Nara

Sorry I'm kind of late posting this time.  This post covers our trip to Nara.  Our first stop was Houryuuji, another famous temple.

We were one of the first groups to arrive, so we managed to get a few pictures before the crowds hit.  This is just the main entrance street.

Many of my classmates decided to wash their hands in the temple's water this time.

This is the outside of the Golden Hall.  Pictures inside were not allowed.  Inside were a few Buddhist statues of fairly impressive scale, but not much else.
A view from the steps of the Golden Hall looking out into the courtyard.  The pagoda on the right is the oldest wooden structure in the world that is still standing, believed to have been built in 594 AD.  It also enshrines a fragment of what is believed to be one of Buddha's bones (source: Wikipedia).
My friend decided to go ahead and do the whole donation, gong ringing, and prayer thing.  This was at another small temple away from the main one, but in the same facility.
We couldn't spend too long there, but we saw the important stuff.  There was also a museum nearby, but again no pictures allowed.  It had a lot of old statues, scrolls, and carvings in it, some dating back to the 8th or 9th centuries.

Then we moved on to Toudaiji.  We had a very long walk on the way there, during which we saw a lot of the famous and not-so-famous wildlife.  I took too many pictures, so I'll just post the most interesting ones.

Pigeons, resting on turtles, resting on logs, in the middle of a large pond.  That's a lot of turtles, but there were a lot more in the water.

Turtles come in many shapes and sizes.

Fish only come in large.  But there are white and yellow.  This fish is going after a bit of bread someone threw in, and it ate it a split second later.  I was trying to catch it in the act, but got right before and right after instead.

A swarm of turtles and fish, devouring the bread people were throwing in.

The first deer we spotted.  The area is famous for its deer, which were all very friendly and accustomed to people.  They were also all over the place.  This particular one ate some bread that someone fed it, then grabbed the map out of someone's hands and ate that too as it ran away.

It's like a list of Pokemon moves.  And why are the example characters an old woman and a little girl?  That's just mean.
One of the smaller shrines leading up to the big temple.

A wide shot to show the roof.

Another pagoda off in the distance.  We got a lot closer to it, but I liked this picture better than the closeups.
My arm petting a deer.  I took the picture myself, in case you couldn't tell already from the camera angle.

Feeding the deer is a dangerous proposition.  She bought deer cookies, and was soon swarmed.  One of them also ate part of her paper bag there, but fortunately she kept the contents.

Very friendly.
This is the Toudaiji, the largest (non-modern) wooden structure in the world, with construction started in 828.

More funny Engrish signs.

Crowds of (mostly) middle schoolers advance towards the temple.

The largest bronze cast Buddha statue in the world, almost 50 feet tall.  This picture doesn't really give a sense of the scale at all.  It was really dark inside, though, and hard to get any good pictures.
The main statue and another secondary one next to and behind it.  Also impressively large.

Another huge statue.  There were two essentially like this, set by the walls of the temple.

A bunch of old artifacts, but I don't really know what they are.  I can't read the information.

The giant statue on the other side of the main one.
There was a big line of students all waiting for their turn to slide through a hole in a column and get their picture taken sticking partway out.  The hole was just above ground level, roughly a foot in diameter, and three feet or so long.  It's supposed to be the same size as one of the Buddha's nostrils.  It looks like I didn't actually get any pictures of it, though.  Mostly because there was such a huge crowd, and I didn't want to look like I was taking pictures of a specific person as they came out.

And thus ends the trip to Nara.  It was pretty interesting, and the animals were fun, but we did so much walking.  It was really exhausting.

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