We have arrived in Nara.
Nara was Japan’s first permanent capital and it was established in 710. Before that date, the capital used to be moved to a new location whenever a new emperor came to the throne.
Because Nara has a past as the first permanent capital, the city remains full of historic treasures, including some of Japan’s oldest and largest temples.
What is also very special in Nara are the 1200 deers that lives in the Nara Park in harmony with the many park and temple guests. The are so used to people that (and being fed) they don’t mind being patted and seem almost tame.
We went to the park to visit the Todaiji temple in the early morning to avoid all the crowds. It turned out, we were the first ones there and had the whole park and sight to ourselves.
Todaiji is one of Japan’s most famous and historically significant temples and a landmark of Nara.
The Todaiji’s main hall, the Big Buddha Hall, holds the record as the world’s largest wooden building, despite the fact that the present reconstruction of 1692 is only two thirds of the original temple hall’s size. The temple building houses one of Japan’s largest bronze statues of Buddha (15 meters tall). Another popular attraction is a pillar with a hole in its base that is the same size as the Buddhas’s nostril behind the statue. It is said that those who can squeeze through this opening will be granted enlightenment in their next life. We of course had to try, however the whole is no larger than it just could fit for Agnes and Dagmar.
In Hakone we got our temple books that we of course had to have stamped and signed at the Todaiji temple, as well as every other temple we came across from then on.