Location: Nara, Japan (奈良, 日本)
Weather: Still cold, with an average 41° F.
About: Nara was the capital Japan in the 700s, when Buddhism really began to take off in Japan. The city was modeled after Chinese cities, so the layout is quite classic, with roads on a grid and central palaces and temples. Nara is most famous for being the home of Todai-ji, a temple housing the Daibutsu, or giant Buddha statue. It is also known for its semi-tame deer, who you can feed deer biscuits out of your hand.
Places I want to Go:
Of course! No one could go to Nara and not experience Todai-ji. Founded in the 8th century, it is a Buddhist temple complex housing the largest bronze statue of a Vairocana Buddha, known as Daibutsu in Japanese (roughly translating to “Big Buddha”). He sits at just under 50 ft tall. Roaming free around the grounds are Sika Deer, thought to be the messengers of the Shinto gods. I will be here not just of my own accord, but as a field trip for my Drawing at Sea course. I will be drawing, through direct observation, the statues and monuments throughout the grounds of Todai-ji.
Not for me, but for the deer! These are deer biscuits, or shika sembei. They are sold in Nara to feed the tame deer, who wander freely about the Todai-ji grounds and throughout Nara. I’ve heard that the deer can be rather persistent in their quest for these biscuits, often knocking people to the ground. Although, I can think of worse things than being knocked down by a deer, so I have every intention of buying a few of these packages. (Also, they look kind of tasty. I wonder what they taste like).