D3 – Kyoto Exchange – Family Day @ Nara

I woke up at 5:00am on this Saturday. It seemed that the whole time I was in Japan I was waking up every day before my alarm went off. It was very frustrating. This was the view off my balcony this Saturday early in the morning with the full moon setting.

The plan for the day was to visit two historic sites; Nara and Byodoin. Nara was the original capital of Japan from 710 to 784. The really interesting thing is that there are over 2,000 sacred deer that run wild on the Nara grounds. Byodoin is a famous temple of Japan, and its image appears on the back of the 10 yen coin.

This was a day when the host familes could accompany their students on a trip. And most of the students had at least the student they were staying with, and many had both the parents and siblings of the student they were staying with on the trip.

It was a long bus drive up to Nara, but it did give the students time to chat with our guests that were on this trip. When we arrived at Nara, we had a tour guide with a red flag that took us to our first stop on the Nara grounds, the Tōdai-ji Temple.

It did not take us long to encounter our first deer on the Nara grounds. There was a group just inside the gates near the first vendor selling deer cookies.  A young boy was feeding the deer. 

Here’s a picture I was taking of my son Corey near the gates to the Tōdai-ji Temple while a curious deer was investigating what I was doing. These deer would bow down to get a deer cookie that you could buy from the vendors.  Here’s a video of Corey feeding the deer at Nara.

Once we got through the gates we could see the Great Buddha Hall which is the main hall of Tōdai-ji, bests known as the largest wooden structure in the world.

Inside the hall is a huge Buddha statue, and many artifacts on display.


The hall has burned several times over the years and models of each iteration of the Great Hall are on display inside.

In the back of the hall there is a large wood pillar that has a square hole cut through it. The students were told that it is the size of the nostril of the Buddha statue. They said if you can fit through it you will have luck and wisdom for life. So they all lined up to take a shot at squeezing through.



Some had an easier time than others in getting through the hole. Here’s one of them getting a helping hand from another student.

They were taking donations for new roof tiles for the temple. If you made a donation you could write any appropriate message in black ink on the tile. I bought one for Corey and me to leave our mark for PacRimX at Nara.

After touring the main hall we all ate our lunches out under the cherry trees. It was a beautiful day with a light breeze. The shade was a welcomed relief from the heat of the sun and the crowds touring the grounds.

The breeze in the air was blowing the cherry blossoms off the trees.  It almost looked like it was snowing cherry blossoms.  Here’s a short video of the above scene to show what it looked like.  In walking around the grounds of Nara I stumbled on a young girl in a square. She had her hat off and she was running around catching the falling cherry petals in her hat.




We bid farewell to the deer of Nara and got on the bus to head to Byodoin.  Aside from being a famous temple, the area is well known for it’s fine green tea.


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