|Tōkondo (East Golden Hall)|
Our personal pilgrimage required our stopping frequently at gardens so our next stop was Isuien Garden, before we tackled the crowds at the main event- Todai-ji, the home of Big Buddha (Big Buddha, Big Buddha).
Isuien Garden is really two gardens in one. The gardens surround a large pond and provide views for gorgeous water reflection shots on sunny days. The garden was relatively quiet--only a few other people were on the paths with us. Between the gardens were a few ceremonial tea houses and in the back garden we found an old water mill structure. I crossed the rocks to other side of the pond, allowing a wonderful view back of that rock path. (Fortunately, with some help, I made it across without falling). We did not visit the adjoining museum preferring instead to head out to the Park again to find Todai-ji.
|Isuien Pond from rear garden|
|Rock path across pond in Isuien|
|Interior of Tea House in Isuien|
We wandered down another deer laden lane to the entrance to Todai-ji where we found the crowds again. So many school groups visit that there is a sign prohibiting group photos once within the temple grounds- presumably to keep the crowds moving. Inside the Big Buddha (Daibutsu) is indeed very impressive as are his friends (although unfortunately my photos of the friends did not come out so well. For better photos see here.) Although the original Temple and Daibutsu statue were built in the 8th century, the current structure and main temple building, like so many other historical buildings we saw, are reconstructions in this case built in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.
|Deer with my dear on the way to Todai-ji|
|Main Hall of Todai-ji|
|Model of original grounds of Todai-ji|
|Daibutsu (aka Big Buddha)|
|Binzuru Pindola Bharadvaja|
After our visit to Todai-ji we went in search of a particular lunch spot recommended in our guidebook. It had just closed but luckily I wandered into an empty store nearby where, in the restaurant area in the back, we were able to get a bowl of Nara Udon and they called a cab for us to get back to the train station. What a find! (more on the food in another blog. I promise!)