Nara redux redux
On the last day of The Bay Crew’s stay in Kansai, we headed out to Nara to see the Daibutsu at Todaiji. In fact, I think it’s the third time that I’ve been out to see Nara’s Daibutsu, and the Daibutsu and I are becoming old friends. The deer and I are becoming old friends too, probably because I always end up buying shika-senbe (deer crackers) to feed to them. The deer in Nara are considered to be the sacred messengers of the gods, though perhaps a better description might be that they’re the pushy sacred messengers of the gods. They seemed especially pushy this time around, but perhaps that’s because there appear to be less sellers of shika-senbe who are willing to set their stands up during the cold winter months.
This is the first view of the Daibutsuden at Todaiji — the largest wooden structure in the world — that you get as you walk inside the inner gate.
This figure represents Binzuru (Pindola Bharadvaja), the most popularly known Arhat in Japan. Binzuru figures are very often rubbed smooth in places since people rub the figure in the area corresponding to one of their bodily ailments in order to become well. These figures also often have red or white caps and bibs that are placed on them to act as offerings so they will watch over the health of newborn babies.
These two women arrived totally decked out for their first temple visit of the new year. I especially appreciated the white, fluffy rabbit-shawl accessory. (Please view larger for more rabbit detail.)
This is a view of the deck at Nigatsu-do, which is one of my favorite temple buildings in Nara. In addition to the beautiful, ancient, weathered wood of the building, the deck opens out onto an unbelievable view of the city of Nara. The Nigatsu-do is famous for the Omizutori Matsuri, which is a water-drawing ceremony for the initiation of monks. The Omizutori festival is most famous, however, not for its water, but for its fire. On the night of March 12th, huge flaming torches are paraded around the balcony and sparks are showered down on the spectators in order to purify them. Perhaps the big green payphone on the Nigatsu-do balcony is there in case someone needs to make a hasty call to the fire department?
Here’s the sunset view of Nara from the balcony at Nigatsu-do. I’ve been on this balcony at dusk three times now, and each time the view has been breathtaking. Unfortunately, the following day was the day for leave-taking as The Crew headed back up to Tokyo for the last leg of their trip, and I headed over to my office to begin preparing for the start of classes after the winter cessation. Good-bye Tessa, Leon, Mart, Jorge, Courtney, and Dennis! See you back in California for our summer reunion dinner (which will hopefully involve some extremely tasty deep Mission eats).
Filed under: architecture, culture, fashion, festival, Japan, Kansai, matsuri, religion, travel | 2 Comments
Tags: Arhat, Binzuru, Buddhism, 着物, 羅漢, Daibutsu, Daibutsuden, deer, deer crackers, 阿羅漢, 鹿, 鹿せんべ, Great Buddha, kimono, nara, Nigatsu-do, Omizutori Matsuri, Pindola Bharadvaja, Rakan, sunset, temple, Todaiji, view, 大仏, 大仏殿, 奈良市, 東大寺, 二月堂