Nara, Uji – Deer and Genji

Whilst in Kyoto, we decided to do a little travelling in the Kansai area. We had been to Nara before, but the visit was a little brief, whereas we had never been Uji and its, unbeknownst to us, stunning Byōdō-in temple, which is featured on the 10 yen coin.

Uji was the first stop. This area shares some fame due to the fact that a large proportion of The Tale of Genji is set here. There are various statues and pieces of art that illustrate this fact. The city itself is very attractive and, on this day at least, was seemingly peaceful. An impressive river cuts the city in half.

Nara was next. The main thing I like about Nara is the surprisingly rural feel it has once you have made it to the park area. I have no idea how big the park is, but it’s pretty humongous. Also adding to this rural feel, are the deer, who in the Shinto religion are said to represent the gods. They are everywhere and they can smell fear! Well, maybe not, but I certainly wouldn’t go as far as to say they are domesticated. Over a time they seem to have become accustomed to us humans trotting around their home and, like many animals in a similar situation, they have recognised us as a possible source of food. A few stalls around the park sell what they call ‘Deer Cookies’, although it just looked like a rice cracker to me. I certainly wouldn’t appreciate it if someone offered me a cookie, and then gave me a rice cracker, and maybe that goes some way to explain why the deer always looked slightly pissed.

I was lucky enough to receive a friendly head-butt from one impatient deer, whilst I was doling out my ‘cookies’. I say ‘friendly’, but the bloodthirsty look in its eyes still leads me to believe otherwise. I think the message here is that false advertising is wrong. ‘Don’t kick me in the balls and tell me it’s a check-up’ or whatever the phrase is.

The impressive structure you can see in the later pictures is Todaiji. The building itself is staggering enough, but the Buddha inside is perhaps even more so. Apparently, it’s the largest bronze statue of Buddha in the World. Afterwards, we had a pleasant walk through the grounds in the diminishing light, the deer keeping us company.

I’ve been on the cusp of being ill all week. I think I managed to sleep it off/sweat it out before it really affected me. Still, while writing this post, all I really want to do is go to bed. If only the apartment didn’t look like a Tracey Emin creation. I wish I could get famous for not making my bed/cleaning up/brushing my hair.

Have a sleepy sleep.

Chris

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