Nara and the big Buddha

Our MTS sessions ended at 3:30pm and the Big Buddha at Todai-ji in Nara closed at 5:30. We executed a metro gamble hoping we could choose all the rapid transit lines in spite of a steep language barrier and win the race against time. There was a short period of time as the clock neared 4:30 that we thought we might lose…but we didn’t! We dashed out of the Nara station and into a waiting cab who drove the ancient city’s backroads like he was on fire.

We made it with 52 minutes of Buddha appreciation time left.

It was incredible!

The largest bronze buddha was housed in one of the world’s largest wood structures. I thought it would be big, but it was mind boggling big.

The Japanese fieldtrip school groups were swarming all over the place. The atmosphere that the chattering kids generated made the place even more magical.

We walked into the enormous structure and were struck by a very peacefully confrontational Buddha.

The energy in the very old well-used temple was powerful. It punched right into me.

When we visit Hawaii we always visit the Byodo-in temple and watch how visitors deal with the confrontational space. This temple had the same affect on people.

We sat and watched. We walked around and around the enormous space absorbing more and more details.

The beets rang and the doors started to close – We felt light and charged full of energy as we left. Once we got outside into the grounds we realized that we were surrounded by deer. A lot of deer all incredibly tame and looking for an offering of special deer food wafers that the park sold.

We watched a lot of deer bite people’s butts as their backs were turned, looking for the wafers in a back pocket. Amazing and bizarre.

We stayed later than we anticipated – enjoying walking the grounds. As it started to get dark and we both were hit by a delayed wave of jet lag we realized that all the public transportation and taxis had disappeared.

We started walking the deserted beautiful narrow streets. And we waked and walked. Just as our collective wills to live were about to leave us we stumbled into a Japanese Octoberfest…in May.

The beer was authentic and they had some sausage-like items but that was the extent of the traditional German-like items. The rest of the menu was pretty creative.

We paused and rejuvenated in the festival energy and then found a pile of taxis awaiting the wave of drunk Octoberfest revelers.

The taxi dumped us in front of the train station and we were shortly on our way back to Kobe…until something happened on the rails and everything we were doing came to a halt.

We got pushed out into a station to figure it out. We were so tired and hungry that we just stood staring at all the people moving past us with whom we couldn’t communicate. Our problem went past pointing and gesturing. It was an interesting feeling to be trapped like that at the end of the rope without communication skills.

We looked at signs. We looked at our phones. Our blood sugar had gone to zero. We spun around in circles and finally we got a tip from an English speaking tourist helper who directed us to another railway. This railway had minimal English cues and came with a guy yelling non-stop into a bull horn. We purchased tickets and got on the train hoping it was going in the direction of our hotel. Is was…but made stops at stations built 50 feet from each other. We crawled our way back to Kobe in a metro hell.

We hit our hotel at 10:30 pm and dashed into a restaurant trying to close for the night and ate like starved dogs. It had been hard, but Todai-Ji was worth it!


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