Nara, Japan

Wayne Pat Dunlap Breakfast Traditional Ryokan Nara Japan
Breakfast in Our Traditional Ryokan 
- Nara, Japan
Wayne Feeding the Bowing Deer Nara Park Japan
Wayne Feeding the Deer of Nara 
- Nara Park, Japan
Daigutsu Great Buddha Nara Japan
Daigutsu (Great Buddha) - Nara, Japan
Isuien Garden Nara Japan
Isuien Garden - Nara, Japan
Pat Traditional Ryokan Nara Japan
Pat in Our Traditional Ryokan - Nara, Japan
Pat Dunlap Feeding Bowing Deer of Nara Japan
Pat Feeding Bowing Deer of Nara
Todaiji Temple Nara Japan
Todaiji Temple - Nara, Japan
Laterns Kasuga Grand Shrine Nara Japan
Laterns at Kasuga Grand Shrine - Nara, Japan
Nara, Japan (10/17-19/2009) 

Nara, famous for its bowing deer, is a lovely smaller Japanese city with beautiful sites, quaint older traditional neighborhoods, and 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

In 710 Nara was established as Japan’s first permanent Japanese capital after the capital of Japan moved around for centuries. Although capital of Japan for only 74 years (a priest seduced an empress so the capital was moved away from the religious center), Nara witnessed a renaissance when Japan imported from China art, literature, architecture, and religion (Buddhism was introduced to Japan at this time).

The famous bowing deer of Nara are lovely (see photos)! Contrary to popular opinion, the deer of Nara are not trained to bow. The belief is that ages ago the people of Nara bowed to the deer when feeding them. Now, each generation of deer learn this behavior from the last generation. It is amazing to watch. You bow to them and they bow their heads to you.

We stayed in a traditional Japanese Ryokan. Sleeping on the floor was OK but the neat thing is the public bath and Japanese breakfast (see photo – sorry, not the bath).

Back to Nara’s remarkable history… with our outstanding Goodwill Guide, Kitty Oyama, we visited the Horyuji Temple (see photo), the oldest Buddhist Temple in Japan. Since most Japanese incorporate Buddhism in their lives in some way, the beginning of Buddhism in Japan and this temple holds a very dear place in their hearts. 

What’s really fantastic is that the Horyuji Temple itself is the original over 1,300 years old and is probably the oldest wooden structure in world.
In Nara, there is a huge beautiful park surrounding many of the significant sites. This is where the friendly (although sometimes a bit aggressive when you have food) deer are located. 

The largest wooden building in the world, Todaiji Temple is Nara’s main attraction housing the largest bronze Buddha (Daibutsuden - Great Buddha) in the world – more than 50 feet high (see photo). Also in Nara Park is Isui-en Gardens (beautiful!) and the famous Kofukufi Temple and Kasuga-taisha Grand Shrine (with an astounding 3,000 lanterns - beautiful place to wander - see photo).
Traditional Japanese Neighborhood Nara-koen nara japan
Traditional Japanese Neighborhood (Nara-koen)

Most people do Nara in a day trip. That’s a shame because day and night Nara is a beautiful, historic, and less hectic Japanese city with traditional Japanese neighborhoods (Nara-koen).

Please also see our 10 other blog posts for wonderful Japan:

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