We took Mum Mum to Nara yesterday. More than a thousand years ago, Nara was Japan's capital city.
On the train, I realized that the camera's data card was still in my computer back home. So we experienced Nara directly, through our eyes and brains, rather than digitally. Fortunately, MM bought some postcards, and the boys were able to sketch some of the highlights of the trip for you.
In the shot below, Hugo is not calling this creature "Kiosk!" This is Sento-kun. He is the marketing sponsor of Nara's 1300th anniversary this year. The first thing you have to know about Nara is that there are deer. Everywhere.
This is a big draw for kids. The second thing you have to know about Nara is that, being in Japan, it is a seismically active place. Ocassionally, the horizon line suddenly shifts to vertical there. It takes some getting used to, and can be especially slippery when it is pouring rain. You really have to hold on when the earth shifts this dramatically. But the deer are amazingly good at carrying out their business during these events:
At the souvenir shops, they sell "shika senbei" rice crackers that you can feed to the deer . As you can see, these crackers are very crunchy.
I have a word of advice if you ever go to Nara yourself. Do not attempt to feed the deer directly next to the store where you purchased the crackers. This is where the really bossy deer hang out. If you are not careful, several deer will gang up on you and nudge your bag and grab your recently purchased senbei right out of your hand. Then, if you try to run away from them, the deer will bite you in the butt. Then, if you forgot to bring your camera, your children will amuse themselves by memorializing the moment in sketches, like so:
At least, that's what I hear can happen to you. Just be careful. When you go.
The big draw in Nara is Todaiji temple. Here is a photo during one of the horizon shifting moments. It is very sturdy, as you can see.
Inside this, the largest wooden structure in Japan, is Daibutsu (Big Buddha). He is Japan's biggest indoor Buddha.
After Daibutsu, we took a beautiful walk in the rain through the mountains, and fed some more grateful--and less aggressive--deer (if you bow to them, they bow to you, and then you can feed them the crackers). Occasional whining from the younger set .
We walked to a shrine called ShinYakushiji. Its claim to fame is that the statues and the wooden structure are original--they are about 1100 years old and have never burned to the ground (the other wooden structures in Nara have all burned and been rebuilt multiple times). As an aside, here's a reenactment of lightening striking one of the pagodas, and the fiery result:
There are about 12 fierce clay creatures inside ShinYakushiji, which are guarding the Buddha there:
Later, we whined --I mean walked--to town, found an izakaya, stuffed ourselves. Took the train home. Can I just mention that it is lovely to sit on a comfy train seat, instead of driving home from a day tromping around in the pouring rain?