Dad said he'd like to go to Kyoto City again, but since he'd never been to Nara, nor heard of it, I decided to go to Nara Park. I thought he'd enjoy it there with all the deer roaming around. 'The Historical Monuments of Ancient Nara' is a world heritage site made up of temples and the like in the ancient capital city of Nara. I thought we'd be able to get there within 4 hours from Miyazu, but recently they have finished connecting the highways and it only took 2 hours.
There are about 1,200 deer in Nara Park. From around 1,300 years ago, they were considered 'messengers of the gods' for the Kasuga Taisha Shrine, and have been protected ever since. You can buy deer biscuits for ￥150 and feed the deer. It is said that some deer even bow their heads to get a biscuit. Around October, they have a deer antler cutting ceremonial event. Therefore, when we were there, most stags had no antlers. I went to see this deer cutting event when I was at Kyoto Sangyo University. It was interesting. The atmosphere was kind of like at a Colosseum. As we were walking towards Todaiji's Nandaimon Gate, I saw an elementay school student approaching a young deer. Suddenly, all of his classmates yelled, "No! Not the little ones! It's mother will come!". This gave me the impression that they had studied about the deer before coming here.
Todaiji temple was built in the middle of the middle of the Nara period (710 - 794). The Great Buddha Hall was burned in the fires of war in 1180 and 1567, and the current building is the 3rd generation structure, which was finished in 1709 in the Edo period. The width of the current building is approximately 33% smaller than than that of the original structure. Even so, it was still ranked as the largest wooden structure in the world until 1998.
Kasuga Grand Shrine was established in the year 768, and is Nara's best known shrine. It is also famous for it's lanterns. It has 2,000 stone lanterns and 1,000 hanging lanterns, for a grand total of 3,000 lanterns. These lanterns are lit twice a year, once in February and once in August. 12 years ago, I went to see the Mantoro (10,000 lantern) festival in August, but I don't remember if I went as far as the Kasuga Grand Shrine. However, I do remember Todaiji and it's surrounding area. It was beautiful.
Next time will be about our 2nd ride. Where did we go? Stay tuned.