Oh deer!

By Sarah and Tyler

Today in Nara
Outside Kyoto Prefecture
Deer are everywhere

We rode on a small, crowded bus to beautiful Kasuga Taisha Shrine—home of the Fujiwara clan. The shrine is still in use by the Fujiwara family today. There are deer hiding everywhere, waiting to steal your deer cookies. The deer are considered a messenger to the gods, alongside with ravens (and a fox). They’re kinda of like an animal version of Hermes, without the winged shoes.

The shrine has thousands of large, people-tall stone lanterns. Under the entrance to many shrines and temples, is a board that is easy to trip on. That’s not what it’s for. The idea is to make people bow before entering to show humility. If you do trip, however, you will be on your knees bowing; which is so humble. The shrine is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; which means it’s pretty important.

Afterward, we went to Todaiji Temple. It was built originally in 749 but has since been renovated because of earthquakes (the Buddhas head even fell off once). Todaiji Temple was highly inspired by Chinese architecture, which means it’s very symmetrical and brightly colored. Inside the biggest building hides the enormous Daibutsu—which means “big buddha.” The bronze Buddha inside is 48.72 feet tall. It is said that if you can fit through the Buddha’s nostril, you will go straight to Paradise after you die. Of the six people in our group that tried, four made it through. While the temple is known mostly for housing the Buddha it is also one of the largest wooden structure in the world—which is pretty amazing because the current building is 30% shorter then the original!

Finally, we visited the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine. Founded in 711 BCE the shrine is most known for its Torii gates. The shrine messenger animal is a fox. While most shrines have a straight path from the entrance to the temple, the path for this shrine weaves up the side of the mountain. This is because of the energy of the fox. The fox has very strong energy, but it is also a very cunning animal. The shrine itself is for the Shinto god of rice. In the mouth of one of the foxes is a key and the key is for the grain shed.

Quick, fast, and cunning
Beware, the fox hears your prayers
The shrine messenger

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