Having Kiyo our guide made travelling very easy as we did not have to worry about anything. She was happy to adjust the itinerary according to our wishes which was a big bonus. Saturday night the 24th of March in Nara we had lovely barbecued eel in a restaurant which had a poster saying “save the eel”. Tony liked it so much that he asked them whether they had another one. Well they did not but just took the poster of the wall and gave it to him!
Sunday was a lucky day in the Japanese calendar and we saw a wedding and several children being blessed at the beautiful vermilion( orange/red) Kasuga -Taisha Shinto Shrine. The Shrine lies in Nara deer park and gets gets rebuilt every 50 years. It is known for the nearly 2000 stone lanterns which decorate the path up to the shrine and are lit twice a year, which must look magical. Nara park is full of sacred deers as in the 8th century a god came to Nara riding a white deer. Since then the deer have been protected and respected as divine messengers by the local people.
According to Kiyo most people get married at the Shinto shrine but buried at the Buddhist temple because Buddhists believe in an afterlife.
Buddhism flourished in Nara, although the emperor moved the capital to Kyoto after 70 years because the monks engaged in too much political intrigue. By then he had built the Great Buddha which is housed in Todaiji Temple and is the world’s largest bronze statue at 16m high.
Protective gilded gods have fiersome faces to frighten the enemy.
Legend says that the dressed up monk Binzuru was too naughty to enter the temple so he had to sit outside, do good and help others. He has the gift of healing so if you touch him and then the body part which hurts you will be healed!
On to Yoshino and Konya-San next xxF