During the last three weeks, we all had the opportunity to go on several excursions to other cities and areas. These day trips have given me the opportunity to know more about Osaka’s culture, food and people. The first trip was at Nara’s Todai-ji temple which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.The temple has the world’s largest bronze statue of Buddha and each year thousands of tourists and locals come there to pay their respects. For reference the dimensions of the statue are:
- Height: 14.98 m (49.1 ft)
- Face: 5.33 m (17.5 ft)
- Eyes: 1.02 m (3.3 ft)
- Nose: 0.5 m (1.6 ft)
- Ears: 2.54 m (8.3 ft)
There was one other interesting attraction aside from the statue in the temple. It was a pillar and it had a small hole in it. Anyone who can pass through the hole will bear good luck. It was really small but I challenged myself to give it a try. I succeeded in the first go and following my attempt my friends had a go as well.
Outside the temple, there is a huge garden with lots of deer. Deer are considered the messengers of the gods in the Shinto religion. The deer roam the grounds freely and there is a special kind of cookie for them. If anyone wants to feed the deer they can buy and feed them these cookies. I have seen people surrounded by ten deers feeding them cookies. Usually they are harmless but it is better to show your empty palms if you run out of cookies.
The temple precinct covers a huge area which is dotted with small temples and shrines. I learned that Japanese people worship many gods according to their beliefs. Each temple resemble one particular god – god of wealth, god of wisdom, god of health. People pray according to their beliefs and often pray in almost every temple. With the assistance of my Japanese partners, I prayed in some of the temples.
The whole area is open where people can experience the sacred gardens and temples of Todai-ji. There are some small souvenir shops and among them was a calligraphy shop where on display were calligraphy equipment thousands of years old. Some calligraphy pens and inks were even older and the good news is that anyone can buy them if they were willing to part with a huge sum of yen. Using my broken Japanese languages skills, I spoke with the owner about my interest in calligraphy. He was really kind and taught me how to do calligraphy. I also came to know that he has visited Australia and stayed in the Gold Coast in Queensland for a month.
Though it was a hot and humid day, my mind was already refreshed with the breeze of sanctity of Todai-ji .