Stuffing small children through a hole in an 8th century wooden pillar, so that they may achieve eternal life……
As there was no rugby today, we went to Nara. It’s a small town, about an hour by train from Osaka, where about 1200 deer roam free. Literally. Across roads, inside shops and buildings and across the acres of a stunningly beautiful park containing the worlds largest wooden building, the Todaiji Temple, and the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue,
According to Shinto tradition, Nara deer were the sacred messengers of the gods. These days the deer are no longer considered sacred, but they are national treasures, and they bow to you if you bow to them!
Apparently deer are not stupid and learnt that daft humans provide food if you do cute stuff. Not all of them are cute and cuddly though, as they’re quite aggressive round the Deer Cookie stalls, and bite and butt you if you’re not quick enough to feed them, as I found out!
We went because I’m a sucker for cute animals and I’d seen pictures of the deer and the park. However it was the temple and the Buddha that will stay as a vivid memory of the best of Japan.
It’s huge. It towers over you as you walk up to the main door, and the drifting incense adds to the calm atmosphere, even with hundreds of people and loads of school parties, with their very bossy guides.
The ponds outside contained huge carp, and some cute terrapins, and everywhere you turned, there were deer. With people trying to get selfies with them. They were some of the most tolerant creatures I’ve seen, when faced with hordes of people doing stupid stuff. Perhaps it’s the Buddhist influence.
Anyway, back to the weird jobs people end up doing, especially in the tourist industry. Ancient shrines made of wood must cost a fortune to repair and, while there was an ‘exit via gift shop’ section, with an incredible amount of deer-themed tat for sale, watching one guy paint the most gorgeous kanji onto beautiful paper was wonderful.
The smiling young lady, kneeling for ages on a stone floor, to push a long queue of smallish children through the hole in the pillar, takes my prize for doing the best, most bonkers, job of the day. Total respect. Also respect to all those deer, putting up with stupid humans, in return for a few measly cookies.
Nara was a joy. One to live long in the memory.