Monday, November 7, 2011

Nara's Big Buddha, Deer in the Public Park, and Tofu

Last week on Thursday, because school was on holiday, my host mom offered to take me to the neighboring prefecture of Nara to see the Daibutsu, or Big Biddha. This is the biggest Buddha statue in the world, from what I've heard. She also said that there is a famous only tofu restaurant nearby the public park, which happened to have hundreds of deer living there. I was totally in.
We drove for an hour and a half, blasting Lady Gaga the entire way. We are really best friends, in place of a student/host parent relationship, for which I'm really glad. The drive was really fun and full of laughs. I attempted to translate Gaga's obscure lyrics and she didn't understand and of it, which was fine.

We arrived, and I suggested to use the free bicylce rental service the city offered. We spent the next 30 minutes biking to the Big Buddha, through the city. It was my favorite part of the trip- Nara is really hilly, and the day's weather was just cool enough. The breeze in my hair and the fun of gliding around the streets and in between traffic was just the best.

Passing a public park, I noticed deer. Lots of them.

We stopped and I took pictures with them. There were deer sleeping, running, and eating from people's hands (they sold deer food for people to give them). They were all friendly (to me!). I saw some charge at some people because they ran out of food to give. Some people were overly freaking out over the really well behaved ones too. They were screaming and backing up and saying 'Go away!' as they were holding food to give them. Why wouldn't you want to get close to them if you wanted to give them food anyways? Crazy people.
There were even some babies, but they were extra cautious and ran away if you tried to pet them.
The males had their antlers shaved down so people didn't get injured.

We kept on biking uphill untill we reached the huge temple housing the Big Buddha. It was amazing to behold. It was made entirely of wood, and a meticulous amount of detail was payed. The chair he sits in, and the background featuring many mini Buddhas, and even the wrinkles in his clothing were all very realistic and lifelike. The temple was packed with avid admirers. Many people added incense to big steel vases full of ash, in order to pray to him.

This last picture is of a nearby pagoda, or tower.

After that, we went to the tofu restaurant. It was really fancy and had a great atmosphere. Literally everything they served, save for the rice and tea, was tofu. I was shocked how many different flavors and dishes you can make out of one simple and plain food. It was delicious! I was really glad I got to try so many new various dishes.

Everything was surprisingly packed with flavor!

On the drive home that evening, my host mom asked if I wanted to skip the next 2 days of school to go to Hiroshima with my older, college student host sister. I immediately said yes. It was one of the best decisions of my exchange. I will blog about Friday and Saturday later. Now, I'm off to bed.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you are getting along so well with your host family. Hiroshima.. will be interesting to hear the perspective of the people there. many Americans around touring?