Just got back from an exhausting few days in Kyoto and Nara.
Kyoto might just be more impressive than Tokyo, owing a lot of its wonder to the fact that much of it is older (it wasn’t all burned to the ground during WWII). The highlight here was Jion Castle, a huge, sprawling complex of gardens and all-wood buildings. Unfortunately it doesn’t photograph well, and no photos of the interiors were allowed, though photos can’t do the place justice anyway. The Golden Pavilion was almost equally as stunning, and I could have spent an entire day at Kiyomizu Temple.
Nara was more memorable for its claim to fame: the deer. Nara is a small city that’s home to many, many completely tame Japanese deer. They wander the parks, sidewalks, and streets, and you can walk right up to and even touch them, though they’re more interested in you if you buy a package of deer treats from one of many vendors for 150 yen. They were even on the walkway to Toadi-ji Temple, where the largest bronze statue of the Buddha rests — indoors. Yep, it’s bigger than even the Big Buddha I visited earlier. Inside the temple, behind the Buddha, one of the massive pillars has a hole in it that’s about 16-18 inches square. Legend has it that if you can fit through the hole, you’ll be able to attain nirvana, but I didn’t get to try because the line of school-aged kids waiting to do it wrapped all the way around.
Just this quick report for now.