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The Buddhist Heritage of Nara

Five-storey pagoda Kofuku-ji


hamaguri no
futami ni wakare
yuku aki zo


Dividing like clam
and shell, I leave for Futami—
Autumn is passing by

I'm like a clam pulled apart
Its body ripped from the shell
Looking back, leaving you
With the passing of the autumn
Onward to Futami!

Matsuo Bashô (松尾芭蕉)
Final poem in Oku no Hosomichi; it can be read a number of different ways.
Futami is the rope-linked wedding-rocks at Ise-Shima,
and the site of one of Shinto's foremost shrines...

Our views of Nara City and the Kasuga Shrine are in the previous chapter.

We traveled by train on a day trip from Kyoto to Nara.

Nara's Kofuku-ji has one of the tallest old wood pagodas in Japan. The complex is situated in a deer park and consists of some of the oldest wooden buildings in Japan in the form of Todai-ji dating back to 728 AD, containing the Daibutsu-den supposed to be the largest wooden building on the planet, with giant bronze Buddhas (Daibutsu) and accompanying temples with panoramic views over the town.

Todai-ji's Daibutsu-den hall housing the great Buddha is a photo-friendly rustic temple thronged by crowds of school children, along with the Nigatsu-do hall which has a sweeping view of Nara.

Behind these is the secluded Shinto Kasuga shrine which was again celebrating life in an infant blessing.

Kofuku-ji with five storey pagoda

Images from the museum exhibition

Deer and fawns in the park

You walk everywhere amid throngs of deer which wait to eat deer biscuits, we mistakenly consumed ourselves last time in 1984, and which try to sneak up and nibble your sandwiches.

Gateway Todai-ji

Gateway to Daibutsu-den


A festival at Daibutsu-den

Panorama over Nara from Nigatsu-do

Paintings and images of a fire festival at Nigatsu-do

The forest path to the Kasuga Shrine.

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