Tuesday, 27 October 2009


Todai-ji in Nara contains this, the largest wooden structure in the world, and it houses the Great Buddha, which is one of the largest bronze figures in the world - originally cast nearly 1,300 years ago when Nara was Japan's capital city. Round the back of the statue is a column with a hole in its base the size of one of the Buddha's nostrils: to squeeze through it is a sign that you are ensured of enlightenment. I declined to try this afternoon. (Mini however made it without any trouble.)

We were commenting on the absence of beggars in the streets anywhere we had been so far. Today, we came across a Buddhist monk with his bowl outstretched: apparently he prays whilst begging; responding to which is I suppose no worse than paying for a mass for the dead.

The other beggars we saw in droves (or rather herds) were the sacred deer of Nara-koen, messengers of the Gods: never can there have been such tame animals! Charming at first, they become something of a trial at lunchtime. But Ida loved their attention of course!

Now, we are all exhausted.

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