Nara: City of Sacred Deer

No trip to Osaka would be complete without a stopover at the enchanting city of Nara.

While history and culture buffs will love the collection of temples, shrines, and ruins that altogether make up the UNESCO World Heritage "Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara" list, most travelers come for a different activity all together: the feeding and photo opportunity with wild Japanese deer.

T┼Źdai-ji Temple

* And the most popular location for this activity can be found on the grounds of Todai-ji Temple.

* To enter the complex, one must go through the Nandaimon, the Great South Gate, which is considered a Japanese national treasure.

* Agyo, one of two great Nandaimon guardians, bids you salutations and good tidings!

* Todai-ji is one of the so-called "Seven Great Temples" and was completed in the 8th Century.

* And the temple is known for having the largest bronze statue of Buddha in the world!

* No climbing of the Buddha is allowed! This is despite growing up with statues of a laughing Buddha being smothered by happy children!

* Right next to the Giant Buddha is this fancier Buddha (?) with the trademark sleepy gaze.

* Along with the no-nonsense Temple Guardians, Komokuten..

* And his partner, Bishamonten, who I'm guessing is very lethal with that trident (or back scratcher?).

* A very peculiar attraction in the complex is this lifelike (or fossilized?!) statue of what I'm assuming is a Buddhist monk.

* "Master of occult powers".... interesting.

* A grand palatial home, fit for the world's largest bronze Buddha!

* But of course you can already tell that most of the people here are excited about the deer..

* And they do not disappoint!

* But first a word of warning!

* The deer of Nara aren't just there randomly; in fact, they are considered by locals to be heavenly protectors of the city!

* And despite being wild animals, these creatures have somehow learned to bow as a means of asking for treats from guests.

* Though some of them can be naughty and mischievous! Several vendors sell deer crackers for tourists so interacting with them should not be a problem.

* Ahh the look of a full stomach!

* Me-time for both these beautiful animals.

* Still a better love story than Twilight.

Kasuga Shrine

* Another interesting stop in Nara is the Kasuga Grand Shrine.

* Here the deer are much more wild; with several appearing out of nowhere, demanding snacks without bowing for them, and some actually chasing tourists for treats!

* The shrine is famous for rows and rows of stone lanterns leading up to the shrine.

* Like a Japanese RPG Game.. but real life.

* What a strange sign in a country like Japan that isn't really known for these kinds of incidents!

* Have dramatic setting, will find dramatically dressed women posing for photographs.

* Apart from the stone lanterns, the shrine's interior is also full of hanging bronze lanterns.

* Such strange souvenirs: chips called "Limited of Human" with a teary-eyed deer as its cover photo.


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