Trip Start Aug 05, 2007
9Trip End Aug 20, 2007
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The biggest temple and the most famous in Nara is the Todaiji Temple. It houses Japan's largest statue of Buddha, Daibutsu. The temple was built in 752.
The Todaiji Temple is also the world's largest wooden building. As most buildings in Japan, it burned down and was reconstructed , but the present reconstruction is only 2/3 the size of the original The present building was constructed in 1692. In the 8th century there was a west and east pagoda. The bronze Buddha was cast on the spot. It originally was gold plated. Since it was built, the buildings and the gigantic Buddha have been repaired due to earthquakes and fires. The Buddha's head even fell off once. The base of the statue, lap, and the legs are still the original from the 8th century, while the upper portion including the head was recast in the 12th century. The statue is gilded bronze, 49 feet high. The Buddha's right hand signifies getting rid of troubles, and the left hand wards away evil. The building in which it is housed is 157 feet high. The building has burned down numerous times because of fire or because of wars. At one time the Buddha was left uncovered for a century until 1692. During WWII None of the temples in Nara were bombed. The current building was built in 1709, but is 30% smaller than the original. You need to see this Buddha in person to appreciate the incredible size of it and the amazing fact that it was cast originally in the 8th centuryhttp://www.taleofgenji.org/todaiji.html
When entering temples in Japan, one must remove his or her shoes. It always was a tossup whether to wear sandals or shoes as the heat was incredible and our feet were sweating from the shoes, so we decided to keep both sandals and shoes on the bus. After visiting the Buddhist temple, we continued on to Nara Park. In the Shinto religion animals are divine messengers -snakes, monkeys and deer. In ancient times people were punished if they killed one of these animals.
Nara Park was established in 1880. The park is home to hundreds of freely roaming deer. Considered sacred messengers of the gods in the Shinto religion, Nara's deer have become a symbol of the city and have even been designated a National Treasure. They are everywhere and will try to grab anything you have in your hands that looks like food. They even eat garbage. As soon as I got off the bus, one deer pounced on one of my fans and I have his dirty mouth print to prove it
Our nest stop was the Kasuga Shrine, a Shinto shrine. There were 3000 antique stone lanterns along the path and surrounding the shrine. All will be lit on the last night of Obon. We could see that they were covered on 2 sides with paper in preparation for being lit on August 15th. All the lanterns were donated to the shrine. We walked through the gardens and the paths up to the shrine and everywhere were these ancient stone lanterns. Many had plaques saying who donated or when they were donated.