Our first stop was Sanju-Sangen-Do. This temple had one large building which contains over 1000 buddha statues and 28 deity statues. Quite impressive, though unfortunately taking photos was not allowed. One deity stood out as being different, but I don't know why he looked this way. All except this one showed strong, warrior looking people. But this one looked like a poor old man with his hand out, as if he was begging. Interesting.
We went to Kiyomizu Temple next. This is a large temple up on the hill with a great view of the city. Quite impressive buildings and location.
At the temple, they had an area where people would go to increase there luck. This ranged from charms which you could buy for various benefits (easy child delivery, love knot, safe driving, passing exams, etc.) to buddhas that you could rub and improve your health or luck (for a donation, of course), to two love fortune stones which if you successfully walked between with your eyes closed you would be guaranteed love. Here is a picture of me completing the task (the starting stone is the one way in the back with the sign above it)...
We went to the Ginkakuji Temple, also known as the Silver Temple, next. It has its alternate name because of the silver sand which the monks manicure at the location. Amazing care was put into forming shapes and patterns with the sand, and keeping it immaculately clean. The entire front area in the photo below is the sand, including the side walls which are easily over a foot tall.
On the next morning, we went to the Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine. This shrine is known for having many torii, or the shinto entry gates. You would walk up a path and there would walking under torii lined up almost close enough to form a roof over your head. Too bad they weren't that close, as the weather wasn't as good for us and it was raining. Picture of one of the paths below.
After this, we headed down to Nara, which was a 45 minute train ride away. Nara is famous for its deer, along with being the first capital of Japan. The belief is that the first ruler was sent here by the gods and either landed on a deer or rode a deer instead of a horse. Either way, deer are sacred and these deer have learned that. They have no fear of humans any longer, and actually will chase after you if you have food for them. Picture of me saying hi to one below...
We went to Todai-Ji Temple, which is famous for being the largest wooden structure in the world built without nails. It houses a very large buddha, along with some other artifacts. That is it below in the background of a group shot (sorry about the lighting). Along with my two travel partners, we got lucky and connected with a volunteer guide service sponsored by the local college. Two english speaking Japanese students joined us and gave us a guided tour. Both were very nice and very informative. One thing we found out was that when the shutters in the center of the building (up towards the lower roof line) are open, the buddhas face can be seen (definitely a large buddha).
Last stop was Kasuga Grand Shrine, which is known for having thousands of the Japanese toruu (lanterns). In olden days, a candle would be put inside these to act as lights to guide people in the dark. I like the looks of the stone toruu, and may look into getting one for my garden (if I ever get another house with a garden).
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