23 January 2014

Nara, Japan #travelthursdays

Spending time reflecting on trips to the British Museum with it's Japanese Gallery, the beautiful Netsuke and the glorious art of tea drinking, has me homesick for Japan, and in particular our memories of Nara.
It is a lovely historical oasis. Serenity, respect and beauty are the words that come to mind.
These Sika deer were lovely. They eat out of your hand (this one I especially loved - he had worked out that he should stand by the cart selling the deer food discs. Smart beastie) then they bow to you. They were regarded as sacred messengers of the gods in the Shinto religion. 



According to local folklore, deer from this area were considered sacred due to a visit from one of the four gods of Kasuga Shrine, Takemikazuchi-no-mikoto. He was said to have been invited from Kashima, Ibaraki, and appeared on Mt. Mikasa-yama riding a white deer. From that point, the deer were considered divine and sacred by both Kasuga Shrine and KĊfuku-ji. Killing one of these sacred deer was a capital offense punishable by death up until 1637, the last recorded date of a breach of that law.

After World War II, the deer were officially stripped of their sacred/divine status, and were instead designated as National Treasures and are protected as such. (Cheers Wikipedia!)



By the end of the day we were drinking sake in a local stand up sake bar (they are called tachinomis) surrounded by locals who spoke no English whatsoever and some of the tastiest food we had whilst in Japan. That memory alone epitomises travelling for me.
What travel destination can't you get out of your head?

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10 comments :

  1. One of my best friends lived in Japan for the summer and it changed her life. She still gets "homesick" for Japan occasionally even though it was only her home in terms of length of stay for a very, very short time. *Going off to vote right now* x

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    1. It is certainly a country that gets under your skin.
      Thanks so much!

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  2. Greece! I haven't even been to greece but it's all I think about and want to go so badly. As for where I've been, Italy comes up tops, I've had an amazing time and seen beautiful things every time we've gone.

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    1. I desperately want to go to Greece, and return to Italy. So many places, so little time!

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  3. Nara is a great city! I love the temples and deer park. I hope to visit Japan again someday.

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  4. Oh, I love being taken to places I haven't been before. Thank you Emma! I love all deer and would have been captivated by these ones!

    I can't get Bosnia out of my head and before that it was Serbia so it's safe to say the former Yugoslavia captured my heart.

    Voted for you! Your post is best, you definitely need more votes.

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    1. My pleasure - the deer were so sweet!
      Thank you!!!

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  5. I heart Japan. And loved Nara too. Thanks for this lovely post.
    Claire xx | somewhere... beyond the sea

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    Replies
    1. It's such a unique place isn't it - it's hard to convey how much we loved it.

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