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Nara, like Kyoto, was the capital of Japan back in the mists of time. As such it is another cultural centre of the country, and can be reached from Osaka within about half an hour. It's not a big city, but there is plenty to see packed into a small area.

I had a day's visit to Nara from Osaka, which made for a great little outing. The whole area was perfectly walkable and I enjoyed exploring the temples and parks that make up this charming place.

On the rooftops of Nara

The rooftops of Nara, very Japanese. There are a number of Unesco World Heritage sites throughout the city.

Tomb stones dressed in their finery, unfortunately I don't know the meaning of this.

Dressed tomb stones

Japanese script on sticks

Slats of wood with messages branded in each. I saw these in a lot of places around Japan.

A popular draw for tourists in Nara are the free-roaming deer, who move in herds around the large grassy areas of the city.

Deer roaming Nara

Feeding the local deer

Saying hello to one of the local deer - this one looks vaguely interested in that piece of paper (or is it the camera phone?), but not nearly so much as the deer I saw on Miyajima who was happily chewing up someone's map.

Old man who spotted me taking a picture of him. I don't know if his comments were positive or negative, but I didn't hang around to discuss.

Oi, wot you lookin' at?

Carved statue

Enormous wooden statue near the entrance to Todai-ji temple, behind a pigeon-protection screen.

Deer in profile by the Todai-ji temple. There were plenty of Japanese school groups going around too.

Deer in profile

Todai-ji temple

Todai-ji temple, which as I learned is the world's largest wooden building. It was pretty impressive, and satisfying to photograph too.

Inside Todai-ji is a large buddha statue, but more interestingly is this hole cut in one of the wooden columns to be the same size as buddha's left nostril. Could I fit through and be granted eternal luck? Given how much this Aussie school group were struggling, I figured I'd pass.

Can you fit through buddha's nose?

Dressed scary statue

Outside Todai-ji was this slightly scary looking wooden figurine, dressed in his finery.

More of those little brass cups that you see by fountains across Japan. I had a welcome drink.

Brass cups

Traditional Naran inhabitants.

The inhabitants of Nara were particularly well dressed, at least this couple were, as I think they were having a wedding album done.

Bambi! Little baby deer wandering in the woods of Nara.


Stone lanterns abound

In the forests around Nara there are literally thousands of these stone lanterns. Apparently they're occasionally all lit up with candles which must make for quite a sight, but I was happy to see them during the day only.

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Copyright © Ross Wattie 2010