Saturday, June 20, 2009

Day 13, Nara to Tokyo, Japan

Finally we met our very dear friend Noriko, ; ; ;;) who very kindly showed us the historic monuments of Ancient Nara.

Nara was the capital of Japan from 710 to 784. The city's historic monuments - Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines and the excavated remains of the great Imperial Palace - provide a vivid picture of life in the Japanese capital in the 8th century, a period of profound political and cultural change.

Oooh, that's so cute !

Tame Sika deer, considered to be divine messengers of God, are roaming around freely through Nara....
Hmm, Nopi and Sita soon discovered that they are not so tame when they tried to snatch the "shika sembei - Deer Biscuits" from them!!.

Todaiji (Great Eastern Temple) is one of Japan's most famous temples and a landmark of Nara. Located in Nara Park, Todaiji was constructed in 752 as the head temple of all provincial Buddhist temples of Japan. Today, the temple serves as the Japanese headquarters of the Kegon school of Buddhism.

According to legend, nearly 2,600,000 people helped construct Japan's largest Buddha statue but that would amount to nearly the half of the people in Japan at the time!! Surely that is an exaggeration....

The temple gives the following dimensions for the statue:

Height: 14.98 m (49.1 ft)
Face: 5.33 m (17.5 ft)
Eyes: 1.02 m (3.3 ft)
Nose: 0.5 m (1.6 ft)
Ears: 2.54 m (8.3 ft)
His intricate hairstyle is made of 966 bronze balls
The statue weighs 500 tonnes (550 short tons).

By the time the Buddha was completed in 751, it had consumed most of Japan's bronze production for several years and left the country almost bankrupt!
The Great Buddha statue was damaged, especially due to earthquakes, and recast several times. The current statue dates from 1692.

Todajji's main temple building, the Daibutsuden (Great Buddha Hall), is said to be the largest wooden building in the world.

Horyu-ji (Temple of the Flourishing Law)

is a Buddhist temple in Ikaruga that is widely acknowledged to have one of the oldest wooden buildings existing in the world, and is one of the most celebrated temples in Japan. In 1993, Horyu-ji was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Japanese government lists it as a National Treasure.

Nagoya Castle is a restored Japanese castle located in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture.

If you look carefully you will see on either end of the topmost castle roof there are two golden tiger-headed dolphins, called kinshachi. This motif is used as a talisman to prevent fires. They also are said to be symbols representing the authority of feudal lords. Aah, the cherry blossoms again...

Hikone Castle ( Hikone-jo) is the most famous historical site in Hikone, Shiga Prefecture.

This Edo period castle traces its origin to 1603. When the Meiji era began in 1868, many castles were scheduled to be dismantled, and only a request from the emperor himself, touring the area, kept Hikone Castle intact. Today it remains one of the oldest original-construction castles in Japan. Hikone Castle was designated a National Treasure by the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture in 1952.

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