On a beautiful autumn weekend a long, long time ago (ok, well, two weeks ago), I headed down to Nara on Friday night after work. My mission: be a good tour guide to some visiting Australian friends, Ali & Adrian, who were travelling around Japan. I promised some time ago that if they arranged to come to Nara on a weekend, I’d pop down from Tokyo and show them around.
On the Saturday, we had glorious weather for wandering around the old shrines and temples in Nara, which are World Heritage listed. These are the places that I used to visit as a high school student, and which I still enjoy visiting.
We first went to Todaiji, the largest wooden building in the world, but only two-thirds the size of its predecessor that was burned down in a fire in around the 1700s.
Now have a look at this recent photo of Charlie & Camilla in front of Todaiji, and see who you think looks better. (Charles & Camilla were in Japan last week to mark the 150th anniversary of Japan/UK diplomatic relations.)
And here’s the big fella inside Todaiji – Japan’s biggest Buddha.
It was then up the hill to Nigatsudo, my favourite temple in Nara.
Here’s Nigatsudo from the front.
Behind Kasuga Taisha in the forest are some smaller Shinto shrines, including Kinryu Jinja.
This is Ukimido, with Takamadoyama behind.
Saturday evening was a home cooked meal with the Takemoto family, Eriko and her boys, and Denosan – a sukiyaki pot. On the Sunday, we had a wander around Naramachi, the narrow streets in the old part of Nara. It’s a bit like the old town sections of European cities – narrow streets with old buildings, interesting shops and a few temples and other sights. We tried sake tasting at a shop opposting Gangoji temple, before we went out to a French cake cafe run by two Nara schoolmates – Le Petit Cafe.