Nara: A Temple and a Shrine

The Great Buddha Temple

(Todai-ji Temple)

This is the entry gate to the Great Buddha Temple in Nara with a fierce guard on each side.

This is the temple which was until recently the largest wood structure in the world. It is 160’ tall and 187’ wide and 165’ in depth. It was built in the 8th century but it was burned several times over the centuries. In the 19th century it was rebuilt to this size which is 33% smaller than the original temple.

The Buddha statue inside is 50’ high; the height of the head alone is 17’. It is made from cast bronze which was plated with gold. I see no signs of the gold anymore.

These 4 statues are in the same temple with the Great Buddha. It looks like they still have the gold leaf covering.

Many flowers were around the base of the Buddha maybe in celebration of his birthday?

At the entry to the temple were many deer waiting for handouts from the people. They are considered sacred messengers from the gods so they let them go wherever they want.

Kasuga-taisha Shrine

This is the entrance to the shrine which contains over 2000 stone lanterns.

The lanterns were given by private people with the hopes that they would receive prosperity, health, love, etc.

There are deer at this shrine also.

Most of these lanterns are hundreds of years old. You can see the moss and ferns growing on them. Now when people donate money to this shrine they attach a paper on the window showing who the donor is.

I like the ones with the wooden latticework over the windows.

At this shrine there is a 400 year old Wisteria growing on a bamboo arbor. It doesn’t bloom until the end of April.

I spotted this old Japanese Redwood (Cryptomeria japonica) growing behind the shrine. It can give you an idea how large they can get in the forest and why they can be used for timber. They can reach 300’ tall – not as tall as the California Redwood but close.

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