Next month, one of my friends and her husband and friends will come to Nara for a 1 day excursion. I have already thought a plan of what to see with them and today I tried this plan by myself.
The plan is : start: JR Nara starion (10:30) => Kofukuji Temple => Todaiji Temple => Kasuga Taisha Shrine => Nara Park => Harushika Sake Brewery => Naramachi Lattice House (reconstructed traditional town house)
We have to get to Harushika by 16:30 because of its reception time. As a result of today's a kind of rehearsal, this plan can be possible.
Kofukuji was established originally as a family temple of Fujiwara in 710, same period with capital of Nara. Fujiwara was the most powerful aristcratic clan during Nara and Heian periods. During the period, the temple consisted of over 150 buildings.
Today I visited the Tokondo East main hall. (entrance fee: 300yen/adult) Its main statue is Yakushi Nyorai. He is attended by Nikko (Sunlight) bosatsu, Gakko (Moonlight) bosatsu, and 12 devine generals. In the hall, photo is not allowed. So that images are from the brochure.
Present Yakushi Nyorai statue is the 3rd statue of Yakushi Nyorai of this hall and it was made about 600 years ago. The attendant Nikko & Gakko bosatsu were came here with the 2nd statue of Yakushi Nyorai from Yamadadera temple in Asuka, older capital. So that they were made more than 1300 years ago. The Yakushi Nyorai's head is now at the National Treasures Hall of Kofukuji temple. (Their faces are really resemble.)
Twelve Devine Generals are the guardian for the Yakushi Nyorai so that we can see them most case with Yakushi Nyorai. Each statue has unique action style and has zodiac animal.
Monju Bosatsu had left his family and consent himself into practicing buddhism and been famous for its wisdom. Yuima Koji had been at home and through his business reached the philosophy of Buddhism. The scene of discussion between them is famous and these statues are the pick-up from the scene.
4 heavenly kings are the guardian of hall. Many halls have these 4 for parts of these for protection of directions. Each king stands on a devil. I like to see the face of such devil when I see these statues.
Todaiji temple was established by Emperor Shomu as the headquarter of all of the temples in Japan to promote Buddhism in 752. The emperor hoped that Buddhism would be the main philosophy in Japan to escape from caramities like droughts, famine, and epidemics.
Nandaimon, Great Southern Gate, reconstructed in Kamakura era, is one of the biggest gates in Japan. Nandaimon gate roof is supported by 18 pillars; each diameter is nearly 1m. The upper parts of the pillars are combined with a log of beams.
The both sides of the gate have deva king statues, 8m high. These were made in only 69 days by Unkei and Kaikei group of sculptors. The muscular upper part of body is exaggerated than lower body and giving us the impression of bearing down with their power of body size.
This Chumon also has statues at both sides.
The Daibutsuden Hall (Great Buddha Hall) is the largest wooden structure in the world. Reconstructed in 1709, the present building is 48.7m high, 50m long and 57m wide. Even more surprising is that the original built in 752 was 1.5times wider than the present one. The present hall is supported by a total of 60 pillars, each of which is made of many pieces of lumber put together and fastened. There were no more huge trees left in Japan when it was reconstructed in the early 18 century
Today I skipped entering Daibutsuden Hall (its entrance fee: 600yen). I paste the photos I took in April this year.
The Great Buddha statue is 14.98m high. It is Japan's largest National Treasure. It has been repaired many times and the original part is lotus-shaped seat only. Its official name is "Vairocana Buddha", derived from Sanskrit, meaning the "Infinite Light of Truth". He illuminate not only the present time but also illuminated the past and will illuminate the future.
The Great Buddha is accompanied by Kokuzo Bosatsu and Nyoirin Bosatsu.
In this hall, we can see large (5m high) Koumokuten and Tamonten (heavenly kings).
By the way, ancient belief had that evil spirits would come from the north-east. To drive them away, a pillar in north-east (from the Buddha statue) has a hole the size of this statue's nostril to be imperfect.
Leaving Daibutsuden Hall, I went to Nigatsudo (February Hall). On the way, I saw some buildings.
From Daibutsuden Hall to February Hall was really nice 10 min-walk.
This hall is really famous for the religious ritual, "Omizutori" (water drawing).
On the balcony, every night between March 1 and 14, the monks celebrate this festival, running from one end to the other end while shaking blazing huge toaches. (This is one of the many rituals of Omizutori.) This festival has been handed down faithfully from the foundation of Todaiji temple to today.
Next destination was Kasugataisha shrine and I went the way along the Wakakusayama hill.
Kasugataisha shrine, the 2nd Torii gate.
To enter into the main sanctuary, entrance fee was needed (500yen).
The shrine is on Mt. Mikasa and Mt. Mikasa itself is the worship. So that the land for the shrine had not been leveled to flat and the walls between the pillars are parallelogram, not rectangle.
Within the Chumon, the small shrine buildings stand facing south. We can't go into from this Chuon (entering and photo are prohibited). I prayed them in front of this gate.
There are about 1000 bronze lanterns in the main sanctuary while about 2000 lanterns stand on the approach road. They are lit only 3 days a year: Feb.3, Aug.14 and 15.
To the next destination, Naramachi, I went through the approach road of this shrine. I saw lots of stone lanterns and sometimes saw fawns. Really pretty!
I ate lunch at a cafe on the way. It was "Kasuga ninai chaya". My cellphone couldn't work as camera here so that I couldn't take photo here. I ate cold maccha rice porridge with a dish of small pickle and rolled omlet. The cold porridge was good after walking in the heat.
I went across the Nara park and enjoyed the nice views.
The atomosphere here is nostalgic though I was born much later than those old houses. (They are about 100 years old).
In this area there is a Sake company and we can try tasting of several sake only with 500 yen.
After sake, I went to the Naramachi Koushi-no-ie (lattice house). I took some photos of the inside of this house. It was reconstruction of today but really nice replica to know the life of the 100 years ago.
It was nice walk for me to see these popular places of Nara city. I got to know many things this time.
By the way the steps of today was 20,611, the walked distance was 13km according to my cell phone. I wonder if my friends could walk for this distance. Maybe we should skip some places and play with deer.