Friday, October 10, 2003
Please make my Buddha super-sized
WARNING: This update contains lots of pics.
So I'm just started my second week of working fulltime, but I find myself still reflecting on my weekend - it was great! I have Wednesdays and Thursdays off, so it's interesting to be off work when your normal Japanese person is still slaving away. But yeah... I digress.
This past Thursday I was fairly pumped up because I got to do my first "tourist thang"... I and friend (another newbie English teacher, my Korean-Canadian homie Michelle) went to the city of Nara to go site seeing. Nara isn't quite as famous as Kyoto to foreigners, but my extensive guidebook studying before I came here to Japan said that Nara was definitely worth a trip. At one time in ancient Japan (I think around 700 AD), Nara was the Imperial capital.
It took me around 2.5 hours one way to get there, but all I gotta say in response to them guidebooks is...
The entire city is very quiet, and completely covered with various shrines, temples, and parks, most with probably great historical significance, but since most of the signs were completely in Japanese (and Korean, surprisingly) I'm left to just speculate about things. Here's a couple of highlights from my trip:
What is it? I dunno, but it looked cool and was engraved with a lot of writing.
This five story pagoda was a replica of a temple that was in the city... I think this is near Kofukuji temple.
Deer... the entire parks and temples are crawling with them. Apparently, they're considered a symbol of the city and allowed to breed at will, unharmed. They look meek... but don't let them fool you. Those mangy bastards will manhandle you first chance.
During a break from walking, I and my friend sat down to eat some yummy green tea ice cream. A buck near by us kept chasing a doe, for what I suspect was probably some sort of deer humping action. The doe eluded the buck, so the buck, in what I could only guess was deer sexual frustration, let loose with the most horrific sound I've ever heard a 4-legged mammal make - a 1-2 minute whine that sounded like a badly damaged megaphone or Michael Bolton single.
I resisted the urge to slay the sacred animal with my barehands. It was difficult.
I try to half-heartedly make peace with a buck.
A nice looking tree. Yes, some Japanese people are still masterful gardeners in their home country.
The outer wooden gate to the highlight of the trip, Todaiji temple. The inside of the gate held two massive wood statues of Buddhist guardians (complete with demons trampled underfoot).?@?@
One of the guardians and me. Note the scale.
Todaiji temple. This thing was as beautiful as it was massive. Bit from another webpage... "It was constructed in 752 as the head temple of all provincial Buddhist temples of Japan and grew so powerful that the capital was moved from Nara to Nagaoka in 784 in order to lower its influence on government affairs. " It's also the world's largest wooden building, even though the current temple is a reconstruction of the original (the reconstruction dates from the 1700s), at only two-thirds of the original's size.
The Daibutsu... a gigantic bronze statue of Buddha that's about 50 feet high. It's also the biggest Buddha statue in the country. Whoa son! Very impressive and incredibly detailed, though I suppose it's existence is a bit ironic, considering that the founding tenets of Buddhism seem very anti-iconic.
Another gi-normous wooden statue of a guardian, this one being inside the temple, in one of the corners.
The monks at the temple are trying to raise money for Todaiji temple's continuing restoration, so for 1000 yen donation (about $10) you get a roof tile to write on and leave your mark. The roof tile will someday be incorporated into the temple. I wrote my name, the date, where I'm from, and a Bible verse in Chinese... heh heh. I wonder if the monks would recognize it...
My tile on display! Whoohooo!
OK, this has nothing to do with Todaiji temple, but it was my first spotting of Engrish in Nara. Funny, eh?
So yeah... Nara was a great city. If Shiv or my mom or my sister come to visit, I plan to take them there... there's definitely a lot of stuff to see.
On an unrelated note... behold, my new good friend in Japan. Mr. Say-Roo-Rah Fu-Own!
DigiCamera, movie capability, e-mail, internet, linked photos to phone numbers so when people call, their picture shows up... even English / Japanese mode! So nifty...
Note small size and yes, English menu!
The camera eye is located in the middle and can rotate to face either inside...
...or point outside! Awww yeah... you can photo-snipe with ease...
My "gone native" accessory, which I got free with buying my phone and signing up to a plan. The favorite local baseball team is the Hanshin Tigers, who are currently in the Japanese playoffs. This is their mascot.
Close up on the outside display of my phone. It displays the time and can display a photo... in this case, a picture of me as a kid and my father.
Have I mentioned I've sold out to cellphone technology? Yeah, yeah... this is the last time I'll mention it. Really.
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