Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Nara and Kyoto, again

I decided for my last weekend, I wanted a good mix of seeing old friends, new sights, and reconnecting with some of my favorite spots in Japan. Since I was in Kansai visiting Zach, I decided to swing back to Nara and Kyoto for a quick return look at the worlds largest wooden building. Another motivation to get out of bed was that I got to see my good friend Liz again. Being that she lives in Okazaki, we don't get the chance to get caught up all that often, and it was good to see her before I left.

Our first stop was Todai-ji, the massive temple complex that houses the famous Nara Daibutsu, or Giant Buddha. The casting of the statue in the 700's used the entire bronze production of Japan for several years. While it almost bankrupted the country, the resulting work of art is amazing to behold. This building, more than any other I've seen in Japan, is probably the closest thing to a Gothic Cathedral, in height and width and general grandeur. Of course, the function, design, and material construction are all totally different, but when considering the time to build and the vast resources required, the comparison is valid.

After dodging the pushy sacred deer, we managed to get up to a glorious overlook, and see the vastness of Nara spread out below. Unfortunately, the day was getting increasingly overcast, so the panorama didn't produce any photos of note.

My next goal was to revisit my "favorite place in Japan." Yes loyal readers, I went back to Fushimi Inari in Kyoto. The hundreds of bright red gates just draws me in every time. Sadly, we arrived just after dark, so we missed the sunset, which looked glorious from the train, and the light just wasn't bright enough for pictures without a tripod. I did get one good one of the cityscape though. As we were leaving, the upper part of the temple complex was wreathed in an ethereal mist that made an already magical place even more so. The lack of a tripod stymied my photography attempts again. One of these days I'll learn...

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