Sunday, September 03, 2017

Nara, the Ancient Capital of Japan

As I sleep
Facing the city,
My Buddhas
Stand even in my dreams
On an autumn night.
Aizu Yaichi, Poet, historian, calligrapher 1891-1956

Daibutsu
Nara is chock-full of historical temples, shrines and ruins, a legacy from its early influence as the capital of Japan in the 8th century. Todai-ji is the most visited of these temples. It is the home of the seated Daibutsu (Great Buddha), one of the largest bronze statues in Japan. It measures an impressive 15 meters in height and and fills the Great Hall (Daibutsuden) with its presence. 

Bodhisattva
Two Bosatsu (Bodhisattva) sit on either side of Buddha. 

Todai-ji Temple
The Daibutsuden is the biggest wooden building in the world under one roof though it is much smaller than the original structure which was razed by fire in 1180 during the Genpei Civil War. 

Model of Todai-ji
One of several interesting displays in the Daibutsuden is the model of Todai-ji as it was in the 8th century.

Nio Deity in the Daibutsuden
The Nio deities are the traditional guardians of Buddha. They protect the temple from evil spirits and demons.

Oh deer!
It is a pleasant stroll to Todai-ji through Nara Park where deer roam freely and approach visitors with expectant eyes. They are used to being fed with shika senbei (deer crackers) which can be bought at food stalls nearby. The deer can be aggressive when they smell food so don't eat in front of them.

Nandaimon Gate
The Nandaimon Gate (Great South Gate) marks the entrance to temple grounds. This wooden gate dates to the 12th century and features intricate wooden brackets which support the two-tiered roof. Within the gate is a pair of fierce looking Nio guardians.

Kintetsu Nara Station Mall
The best way to get to Nara from Osaka Namba Station is to take the Kintetsu train because the Kintetsu Nara Station is closest to Nara Park and Todai-ji. The fare is 560 yen each way and the trip takes approximately 40 minutes. There’s also a convenient shopping mall at the station with restaurants, a grocery store and souvenir shops. 

*****

Images by TravelswithCharie


Monday, August 28, 2017

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

Hozu/Oi River
Arashiyama has the distinction as being both a Historic Site and Place of Scenic Beauty. It shares its name with the mountain that creates a lovely setting to this popular destination. Sakura or cherry blossoms in the spring, the red and golden colors of autumn leaves and snow on the slopes of Arashiyama in winter enhance the beauty of the landscape through the changing seasons. 

Munich was luminous

Munich was luminous. A radiant, blue-silk sky stretched out over the festive squares and white-columned temples, the neoclassical monuments and Baroque churches, the spurting fountains, the palaces and gardens of the residence, and the latter’s broad and shining perspectives, carefully calculated and surrounded by green, basked in the sunny haze of a first and lovely June day. Thomas Mann, Gladius Dei, 1902

Neue Rathaus and Marienplatz

At Gamla Staden in Malmö

Stortorget

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mirabell Gardens

Small Parterre
The Mirabell Gardens were laid out in 1687 during the reign of Prince-Archibishop Johann Ernst von Thun. It was designed by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach within the Mirabell palace grounds and redesigned a few times over the years. One of the characteristics of a Baroque garden is how it incorporates vistas outside the garden into its design. This feature is evident from Rosehill, on the south side of the Palace. Our eyes are drawn from the Small Parterre to the Fountain of Pegasus and beyond to the dome and steeples of the Cathedral of Salzburg and Hohensalzburg Fortress. 

Monday, August 07, 2017

Osaka, City of Kuidaore

Unlike its neighbors, Kyoto and Nara, Osaka has few historical landmarks to show. This third largest city in Japan makes up for the shortfall with its thriving entertainment and food scene. 

Dotonbori Street