October 9 – October 13 – Nara
Nara is a wonderful town about an hour outside of Osaka. One of Nara’s claims to fame is that it is a town full of wild, but social deer. These deer, according to the Shinto religion, are messengers of the gods.
Admittedly, I thought the tales of wild deer were exaggerations before arriving in Nara, but turns out the city’s reputation is spot on. Any place there was grass or forest, you saw deer. And the deer were indeed social (some maybe too social). It was so much fun to walk down the road with a deer or two in toe, sit with one beneath a tree and read a book, or buy some crackers and watch as, seemingly out of nowhere, twenty deer would pop up and, like puppies, hop around you begging for some treats.
But Nara isn’t just about the deer. There is also an incredible temple complex, called Todai-ji, a UNESCO World Heritage site, that contains the largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana in the world. The temple was started in the 700s and is truly impressive. The monuments, buildings, and artifacts surrounding the temple are breathtaking and the gardens it sits within are well worth exploring.
I am coming up on my last week in Japan. One final week of exploration!