On Monday, we journeyed out to Nara, having finally returned to the idea of temples and shrines. The first stop of the day was Horyuji, which amongst its buildings houses murals of immense religious importance, ancient depictions of Buddhist paradise.
Her Royal M-ness and I then, made our way on to Nara city, lost track of time at lunch, and just made it to Todaiji Temple before closing in time to see the Giant Buddha, which is housed in the largest wooden structure standing on earth. The building itself is a wonder but it hardly compares to the bronze and gold sculpture contained within. The Great Buddha is breathtaking. I had read the statistics about how much gold and bronze in kilograms that it took to build before I saw the Buddha, it really didn't prepare me. It is just enormous, and beautiful.
Outside the temple, close to 2000 of Japan's National Treasures roam the grounds, they exist in the form of a herd of deer, which before the introduction of Buddhism were believed to be messengers from the gods. So accustomed to the presence of people around their temple, the deer have little problem with being photographed and even petted. Stalls selling deer biscuits are located all around the area, but very little coaxing is required to draw a doe or buck close, even an empty hand will work. It is magical. On the other hand, because of the deer most of Nara has an earthy aroma, like the Easter Show and is a bit of a minefield when walking, the experience though, is worth dodging the deer pellets.