Our tour resumed today and our first stop was Osaka Castle. We didn’t take the trains anymore because we had out tour bus back. We also got a new tour guide! A male Singaporean. So many Singaporeans in Japan, la!
On the way to the castle we saw this adorable puppy and a samurai!!!
We didn’t have time to go inside the castle so our tour guide brought us to a “secret area” where we could take the best photo with the castle.
After our short stop at Osaka Castle (Tours, am I right?), we headed straight to Nara to visit the popular Deer Park and the Todaiji.
The Todaiji, or Great Eastern Temple, is one of Japan’s most famous temples and it is a landmark of Nara.
Todaiji’s Daibutsuden (Big Buddha Hall) is the world’s largest wooden building! This gigantic hall houses one of Japan’s largest bronze Buddha (Daibutsu) statue, and it is flanked by two Bodhisattvas.
Several smaller Buddhist statues and parts (?) are also in display inside the Daibutsuden Hall.
But another popular attraction inside the great hall is a wooden pillar with a hole in the base. They say that the hole is the same size as the Daibutsu’s nostril! Imagine that!
We also found this guy right outside the Daibutsuden. I think it’s called Binzuru. He’s special because he is said to have excelled in the mastery of occult powers.
The other popular residents of the park were the hundreds of free roaming deer! (This also meant there were a ton of ‘landmines’ you had to watch out for, if you know what I mean.)
The deer are considered to be messengers of gods in Shinto. These deer have become a symbol of Nara city and are designated as a natural treasure! Lucky them!
The deer are tame (I mean, look at those sleepy little fellas) until you decide to feed them shika senbei. These are special crackers for the deer that are sold for 100-150 yen a stack inside the park. Word of caution: Prepare for a hundred head-butts once you start feeding them! Be ready to run as well!
After our one stop at Nara, I was back in Kyoto. Our next destination was thankfully included in the tour’s itinerary, Fushimi Inari Taisha.
This is a very popular destination and so there were countless people there. The street leading to the shrine was lined with a lot of food stalls! Sadly, I didn’t have time to try any of them out because we were on limited time and I needed to take the best possible shots I could get at the shrine.
If you’ve read my previous Japan posts, I went to a shrine that had a bright orange bridge. Fushimi Inari Taisha’s structures are also painted with the same vibrant color. Although I think it’s more vermillion than orange. What do you think?
The Fushimi Inari Shrine is an important Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto. What attracts tourists to this particular shrine are the thousands of torii gates that cover a network of trails that lead into the forest of the sacred Mount Inari. The shrine is dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice.
The gates along the entire trail are donations by individuals and companies. This is because Inari was seen as the patron of business since early Japan. At the back of each gate, you’ll find the name and the date of the donation. Each gate starts at around 400,000 yen (small gate)and may reach up to over 1,000,000 yen for the bigger gates!
The day was coming to a close and we were all pretty tired but since we’re on a tour, we had to muster up the energy for one last stop. The famed Kinkaku-ji, or Temple of the Golden Pavillion.
The Temple of the Golden Pavillion is a Zen-Buddhist temple in Kyoto. It’s designated as a National Special Historic Site and a National Special Landscape. The Kinkaku-ji attracts a lot of visitors every year!
The top two floors of the pavillion is completely covered in gold leaf. So, really, it’s not just gold paint.
There wasn’t much to see except for the Pavillion itself and since we weren’t allowed to go inside, all we did was take photos of the pond and the golden structure.
I also took photos of this trio in yukatas. Turns out, they were Taiwanese and not Japanese.
Check out the rest of my trip with the links below!