Nara Deer Park – home to thousands of deer that roam freely. Deer that you can feed (and then be attacked by once you run out of food). These are known as sika deer, and are known as messengers of the gods according to the Shinto religion. The park is also home to many ponds, restaurants, street food stands, and forested walking paths.
Todaiji Temple of Daibutsu – A temple complex in the city of Nara in Nara Prefecture, was built in the year 743. By virtue of being one of the major historical temples in Japan, Todaiji Temple also possesses many valuable cultural artifacts. More than 20 of these Buddhist statues and other works of art are National Treasures. The repository for them, Shosoin, lives up its name of the Treasure House of the World.
Starving Buddha – Binzuru or his holier name Pindola Bharadvaja. Pindola is one of sixteen arahats who were disciples of the buddha. Pindola is said to be a master of occult powers. It is commonly believed in Japan that if a person rubs a part of the image or statue of Binzuru and then rubs the corresponding part of his own body, his ailment there will disappear. His hand signals “do not fear”. Pindola sits outside the entrance to the Great Hall.
The largest bronze Buddha structure in Japan within the serenity of Nara Deer Park.
The structure of the Great Hall is based on a massive wooden latticework of support pillars (hashira) and horizontal connectors of two types: beams and purlins. Struts and rafters are laid on the beams and purlins to support the roof. In the picture, you see me partake of a tradition, where we will obtain enlightenment just by crawling through a very tiny hole carved into the base of one of the pillars.
Kiyomizu Temple – Known more fully as Otowa-san Kiyomizu-dera is an independent Buddhist temple. The temple dates back to 798, and its present buildings were constructed in 1633 during a restoration. Not one nail is used in the whole temple. It takes its name from the waterfall within the complex, which runs off the nearby hills. Kiyomizu means clear water, or pure water. In addition to being a World Heritage Site, Kiyomizu was recently submitted as a candidate as a New Seven Wonders of the World.
We washed our hands at the dragons mouth before entering the temple.
You can purchase these little wooden plaques / tablets and write your wish or prayer on it, then hang it up within the temple.
The temple complex includes several other shrines, among them the Jishu Shrine, dedicated to Ōkuninushi, a god of love and “good matches”. Jishu Shrine possesses a pair of “love stones” placed 18 meters apart, which lonely visitors can try to walk between with their eyes closed.
This looks like a shrine dedicated to fox spirits.
The main hall is built out onto pillars. The effect is that of a deck reaching out from the foot of the mountain. The most well-known aspect of Kiyomzu dera is the huge veranda of the main hall. It juts out on wooden pillars and is an impressive site.
After visiting the temple, we wandered around Sannenzaka, a small shopping street lined with traditional shops and wooden houses. We also stopped here for a Tonkatsu (deep fried pork cutlets) lunch.
Kobe Chinatown – Also known as Nankinmachi and Harbourland, is a rather small chinatown, but offers a nice atmosphere and some good food. Nankinmachi developed as the residential area of Chinese merchants, who settled in Kobe after the city’s port had been opened to foreign trade in 1868.
Kobe Motomachi – located adjacent to Kobe Chinatown, with Daimaru department store and several boutiques, as well as a mile-long covered shopping street. It is also well known in Japan for its cosmopolitan atmosphere, and foreign influence, similar to the Motomachi area in Yokohama, Ginza in Tokyo and Shinsaibashi in Osaka.
We had some extra time so decided to check out the food hall at Daimaru. The variety of food there is astonishing, from sushi, to tempura, to cookies, to cakes, to fruit jelly, to pudding. I would have tried all the food but my stomach would have burst!
Kobe Mosaic – Located at the Harbor of Kobe and Kobe’s playground. There are restaurants, bars, a movie theatre, a shopping market, an amusement arcade and a little amusement park. It’s a “mosaic town” with a big Ferris wheel and carousel, Mosaic Garden and restaurants, boutiques and movie theatres form an almost mosaic-like effect in this commercial park complex. Harbour cruises are offered, some of which go as far as the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge.
Osaka Castle – Osaka’s best known sight and the symbol of the city, Osaka Castle is located in Chuo-ku in what is now called Osaka Castle Park. It was originally built in 1583 by the order of Hideyoshi Toyotomi. The current Osaka Castle was built in 1931 after the castle had suffered several destructions throughout its history. The steep walls which rise close to 30 meters high are made of huge blocks of stone that were transported to Osaka from quarries over 100km away. The sheer height of the walls and the wide moats they rise above make for a grand sight that can be matched by no other castle in Japan. The dolphins on the roof, the ornamental roof tiles and reliefs carved in the shape of tigers are all gilded with gold.
In January 1968, Panasonic Corporation and The Mainichi Newspapers agreed to undertake a joint time capsule project in celebration of the Japan World Exposition 1970: EXPO ’70. Two identical time capsules were buried adjacent to Osaka Castle. The lower capsule will remain buried for 5,000 years; the upper capsule will be opened for the first time in the year 2,000 and every 100 years thereafter. Each capsule contains 2,098 objects and recorded items representing the achievements of our civilization and the everyday experience of the Japanese people. The heritage left by our ancient and more recent ancestors is recorded through art, Iiterature and music. Even the ideals and aspirations of people today are expressed in written and recorded messages.
Nipponbashi – A shopping district of Naniwa Ward, Osaka. Known colloquially as “Den-Den Town,” Nipponbashi is known for its many shops which specialize in furniture, tools, and “otaku” interests such as electronics, animation, comic books, and collectibles. Nipponbashi is often compared to Akihabara Electric Town, its equivalent (in terms of focus) in Tokyo. Although written with the same characters 日本橋 in Japanese, Nihonbashi in Chūō, Tokyo is a different place and has a different pronunciation.
Shinsaibashi – A district in the Chūō-ku ward of Osaka and the city’s main shopping area. It centers around Shinsaibashi-suji, a covered shopping street, that is north of Dōtonbori and parallel and east of Mido-suji street. Associated with Shinsaibashi, and west of Mido-suji street, is Amerika-mura, an American-themed shopping area and center of Osaka’s youth culture.
We stopped for a lovely Shabu-Shabu dinner here.
We spotted this Pachinko palour and I discreetly took a photo. Pachinko is a Japanese gaming device used for amusement and gambling. A Pachinko machine resembles a vertical pinball machine, but with no flippers and a large number of relatively small balls. The player fires a ball up into the machine, controlling only its initial speed. The ball then cascades down through a dense forest of pins. In most cases, the ball falls to the bottom and is lost, but if it instead goes into certain pockets, more balls are released as a jackpot.
Dōtonbori – One of the principal tourist destinations in Osaka is a single street, running alongside the Dōtonbori canal between the Dōtonboribashi Bridge and the Nipponbashi Bridge in the Namba ward of Osaka. A former pleasure district, Dōtonbori is famous for its historic theaters (all gone now), its shops and restaurants, and its many neon and mechanized signs, including snack/candy manufacturer Glico’s giant electronic display of a runner crossing the finish line (the oldest neon sign in the world).
Our trip ended with a BBQ buffet dinner in Osaka.