After a much desired sleep in, Josh and I returned to Kyoto Train Station, this time to grab the JR train to Nara. The ride took just about an hour and by 1230 we were walking the 2km road to the Todaiji Temple.
Along the way we stopped at the Kohfukuji Temple and stared in awe at the second tallest Pagoda in all of Japan. The tallest Pagoda, Toji, we saw on our first night in Kyoto.
We then strolled through Nara Park famous for its wild deer that bow at you in hopes of receiving a deer biscuit reward. Its hard to believe these deer are still classified at “wild” since they seem overly at ease around the thousands of tourists. Nevertheless, it was cute to have baby deer customarily bow toward you, then look up in hopes of receiving a cookie.
Josh and I procured a stack of said biscuits from a street vendor for 150 yen and then proceeded to wander past various ponds, family shrines, and children squealing in excitement as deer nuzzled them for food.
At the terminus of our walk we found Todaiji Temple, the largest free standing wooden building in the entire world. The complex is undergoing extensive renovation right now, and so the serenity or the overwhelming sacredness of the place was hard to feel. We opted for the combined 800 Yen ticket which afforded us entrance to the Todaiji Museum as well as the Temple.
The museum was nearly entirely empty and its dark canvas and perfectly positioned lighting blanketed us in a supernatural embrace. Artifacts found buried beneath the temple are presented – their intricate carvings, vibrant glass beading, and gold lattice work well preserved and still striking over fourteen centuries later. A bend in the museum’s corridors and you’re dwarfed by massive wooden and ceramic statues depicting various states of Buddha and related Gods. One statue had 40 arms and hands each holding a different item. It was bizarre and as I said, supernatural.
We then made our way to the Temple itself, caught in hordes of humans unsure if they were tourists of devotees.
Once you climb the huge stone steps, you’re greeted by one of the Japan’s largest statues of Buddha. The statue is absolutely gigantic, and makes the otherwise huge golden statues look small.
We took the turn around the wooden hall’s various statues and then departed.
We decided upon a shopping market for a late lunch and then spent the remainder of the afternoon perusing souvenir shops even though we clearly have no space, thus no intention, to buy anything.
Not before long we boarded the JR train back to Kyoto and retired to our home. Taiki greeted us and invited the two of us to join him for an evening cup of aromatic green tea. I spent a good hour asking Taiki to decipher the Japanese emojis on my phone, and then we bid adieu and Josh and I fell asleep in our guesthouse for our final night in Kyoto!