Nara April 2013

This would be my second time to Nara since 2009 a.k.a. the year of H1N1, as well as my first ever visit to Japan. Back then, tourists were very scarce, and the locals who were visiting the place were all wearing masks to protect themselves from getting the virus. Everyone except us (and a few tourists). Talk about that awkward moment when you’re the only one not fearing for your life, lol.

After 4 years, I (along with the hundreds of other completely healthy people who all decided to go to Nara on this exact day) finally got to visit the place again It was so crowded and everyone was running around – a totally different vibe from my last visit where all the deer seemed so gloomy from the lack of visitors feeding them deer biscuits. Now they seemed just as lively as the people who were feeding them.

Nara is one of the most commonly visited places in Japan as it is known for the 1,300+ years of history behind it. It was actually the first ever permanent capital of the country! Lucky for us tourists, it’s so accessible especially if you’re coming from Kyoto or Osaka.

Upon arrival, I quickly snapped a photo of some students passing by and got surprised when I saw the result. So cute, my kokoro hurts

The main gate to Todai-ji, the Nandaimon gate.

These two statues are not just your ordinary statues. The Komukuten and Bishamonten, are also Nara’s national treasures, protecting the giant gate from evil spirits, demons and thieves since 1203 AD!

The Daibutsuden from afar. It is the world’s largest wooden building, even if this is already a smaller, reconstructed version of the original!

Obligatory tourist shot. I didn’t get a proper one 4 years ago so I made sure to take one now!

Light seeping through windows.

There this hole in one of the temple pillars that a lot of students were lining up for. It is said that anyone who can pass from one side to the other through the hole is guaranteed enlightenment. Most kids can pass through it easily, though I managed to take a photo of this class clown who pretended he couldn’t fit so his teacher could pull him out. He was laughing the whole time!

For most of us grown-ups who can never fit this hole, let me say that this piece of information can guarantee a certain, shallow kind of enlightenment as well – The hole is just a good size comparison of the giant Buddha statue’s nostril. :)

The famous 15-meter Buddha.

Just a bunch of kids playing at a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Kid of Steel wants to pass through!

Managed to snap a pic of a deer with its antlers still on. The deer is a sacred animal in Nara and they hold a formal ceremony every October to cut their antlers. This has been going on for 500 years now!

Close-up of this little cutie.

Expect some violent deer encounters, I guess.

“Is that deer biscuit for me?”

Caught this old man talking to this deer for a few minutes!

In an alternate universe, this is probably the secret game event that lets you learn a new skill or unlock a new map. Secret deer map only achieved if you manage to feed them deer biscuits without them biting your hand first, lol.

Check out the crumbs!

The cutest. Most of the students showed fear but this girl was all-smiles and was having so much fun feeding the deer!

Bleh, time to move to a new location.

After Todai-ji, we went to Kasuga-taisha, Nara’s most celebrated shrine. It was my first time here, and I’m glad I included this in the itinerary I made because it was just sooo beautiful!

Stone lanterns donated by worshippers. Kasuga-taisha has thousands of them.

May your dream come true, Chris and Jecca!

February and August would probably be the best time to come here because of the Setsubun Mantoro (February 3) and Obon Mantoro (August 14-15) festivals. The 3,000+ lanterns of Kasuga-taisha are all lit at once to mark the transition from winter to spring, and summer to fall.

An 800 year old wisteria tree can also be found in this shrine!

Wide smile that expressed my happiness after all the tourists moved on to the next area. It meant I could finally take a clean tourist-y picture without anyone else in the background. Hashtag: fashiontravelphotographybloggerproblems

The gorgeous path to the exit. Wish we had something like this in Manila! I wouldn’t mind walking outside if there were this many trees!

Limited edition Bambi cellphone charms! Only in Nara!

Last shot of the Nara scenery before I fell almost immediately asleep on the bus ride back to Kyoto. Oh man, I seriously need to work on my stamina.

Next time maybe I could stay schedule a trip in January so I can witness Wakakusa Yamayaki, or their annual festival where they set a hill on fire, or at least set the grass on fire and make it look like the whole thing is burning. Let’s see! I’m very bad with winter.