26 October 2014

奈良市 ♡ lucky charm

{part 2/2}
春日大社 & 東大寺

It hasn't been more than two weeks yet but university is already taking a toll on me. I therefore apologize for the long wait....
As the headline already says I'll talk a bit about Kasuga-Taisha {春日大社} and Tōdai-Ji {東大寺} this time.
If you have missed out on the first part of my Nara-Tour, check out the last post where I talked about Kōfuku-Ji {興福寺} and Nara Park {奈良公園}
When we walked over to Kasuga-Taisha we passed a neighbourhood with a lot of traditional houses. 
For me these buildings have their own charme and they give me a warm, almost homey feeling. I really love it.
Kasuga-Taisha is a shinto shrine. It's located at the bottom of the two sacred mountains Kasuga and Mikasa. Originally it was on Mikasayama but it was relocated to the bottom. It's the shrine of the Fujiwara family that plays a big part in Japanese history. The interior is famous for the bronze lanterns in it and the stone lanterns that lead the way up to the shrine.

The shrine almost seems hidden in the woods at the bottom of the mountain and though it's a really popular place for tourists to go to, it was really calm and not as crowded as down in Nara Park.
There was an inner part you couldn't enter as a tourist but beside that you can freely move around and buy Omamori {御守} - small talismans you can buy as "protectors" {the kanji means "protect"} or lucky charms.
There were a bunch of Ema {絵馬} too - Ema are small wooden plaques on which you write your prayers or wishes and hang them up in the shrine to let the spirits recieve them.
I suppose you could buy them there as well.

Our last stop - already in late afternoon - was Tōdai-ji which was unfortunately already closed when we arrived... I'm going to state some facts about it though...

Tōdai-ji is as well as Kasuga-Taisha an UNESCO World Heritage Site in Nara.It hosts the biggest Buddhist bronze statue - called Daibutsu {大仏} which means big Buddha - of the adibuddha Variocana. Beside that the area hosts the shrine for a Shinto god called Hachiman who was appointed patron god for the Daibutsu. Another striking site is the gigantic entrance gate Nandaimon from 1199. The two guardian statues in the gate are about 8,5m high - so you only can imagine the total height of this timber structure.
On a sidenote I found out why Sika deer are allowed to roam places in the city of Nara freely and are especially involved in the scenery around Nara's Shinto shrines.
Regarding the believes of Shinto, deer are the messangers of the gods and spirits and therefore part of it all.
They're also included in this beautiful manhole cover I found on the way back to the station, where we ate dinner and headed back to our hostel to rest.
Our last day in Osaka was close, we'd be soon returning to Tokyo after this short trip to the Kansai region. I'll post about this in my next JAPAN update. 

Did you ever write down your wishes or prayers on an Ema or bought an Omamori?
Do you believe in talismans and charms?
Any questions? Ask in a comment below.

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