"Great Good Fortune"

Trip Start Jul 25, 2009
Trip End Mar 29, 2015

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Flag of Japan  , Kinki,
Monday, May 3, 2010

Nara is where I received my "Great Good Fortune". Let me write it here, leaving the typos as-is:

Great Good Fortune
Like a calm spring garden filled with the fragrances and colorus of blooming flowers, your fates will blossom forth, bringing you supreme happiness. Nevertheless, you must guard against heedlessness, always keeping faith nd hope for the future in mind, basing all of your actions upon kindness and rectitude. Do not be led astray by fleeting pleasures.

  • Your desire: will be granted suddenly, sooner than you expect, as your furtunes continue to improve for the better.

  • Lost odjects: will be found. Look in a low place.

  • Journeys: a quick tart will bring good results.

  • Trade: secrecy andavoidance of publicty will be worth your while.

  • Agriculture: excellent prospects, no matter how high your aims.

  • Directions: no problem, whatever the direction.

  • Quarrels: bifficulties at first, but eventually you will win.

  • Employees and dependents: make your slectionafter investigating the candidates' family backgrounds.

  • Change of residence: your present hopes will no be fulfilled.

  • Birth: no problems. Be reassured.

  • Illness: will be cured. Have hope.

  • Love and marriage: if you are patient, persevering in your dream, in time all will go as you

…as you what?? Dammit! Well, it was pretty good on the whole.
The trip itself was great. I don't think I ever had so much fun on my own. It was a bit of a train-trip down there, about an hour and a half. I convinced myself that I could get a rental bycicle, even though the guide said they were sold out since it was the 300th anniversary of something in Nara. People were EVERYWHERE. It was a little overwhelming, and it was hot.
Vendors were selling everything outside, from Shika-Sembei (Deer biscuits) to Toriniku (friend chicken on a stick!). I sort of wandered until I saw the 2nd tallest temple in Japan, the name escapes me…it wasn't much anyways.
What did interest me, and what primarilly got me out there was the Todai-ji Daibutsu-den, the largest wooden structure in the world. In 743, the Emperor Shōmu issued a law in which he stated that the people should become directly involved with the establishment of new Buddha temples throughout Japan.
Historians believe the reason for building this was that Emperor Shomu needed  charm against smallpox, which was ravaging Japan during that time. Perhaps, such piety would inspire Buddha to protect his country from further disaster. It was rebuilt twice, last finished in 1709.
The original complex also contained two 100m pagodas, perhaps second in height only to the Great Pyramids of Egypt at that time. Now, it's 57m long and 50m wide, and yet a third of its original size!

Built in 1709, it houses the Daibutsu (Great Guddha), and the largest Buddha Vairocana in the world. It's an image of the Dainichi Buddha, the cosmic Buddha believed to precede all worlds and their respective historical Buddhas.
Originally cast in 746, it stands over 16-meters high and consists of 437 tonnes of bronze and 130kg of gold. Over the centuries, the statue took quite a beating from earthquakes, fires, losing its head a couple of times. 

One of my regrets is forgetting to attempt the famous crawl through the column behind the statue. Exactly the size of one of Great Buddh'as nostrils, people who can squeeze through it are ensured of enlightement, or so they say.
For once, I'm glad that things in this country are Japanese-size.
Sidenote: I just got back from experimenting with one of my teacher's 'religious constructions'. To prepare the 2nd graders for their trip to Nara and Kyoto, one of my teacher's in Tomiyama built a wooden passage that's the exact dimensions of Buddha's nostril. So, having accomplished this practice, I feel ready for my next visit (once I'm done dusting off Buddha's Boogers).
Another highlight of this trip was the visit to Nigatsu-do and Sangatsu-do Hall. Perched on the mountain over Toudai-ji, it offered me a wonderful panoramic of Nara. From here, I stayed at a free resting houese (just a wide shed with free clean water), and then set out for Kasuga Shrine.
On the way to Kasuga Shrine, I pickd up some deer-biscuits and fed a few deers. They were bold! One of them trying to mug me, and I gave it a good smart for almost tearing a hole in my pocket. Also trying to mug me, were a couple guys from Toronto (figures).
Well, that's not true, I'm just stereotyping now. ;) A couple shotgun travelles from T-dot spotted my borrowed back-pack with the Canadian flag and shouted "Toronto" as I walked by. I think I saw them on their rented bikes beforehand (wtf, how did THEY get them?), but didn't notice them as I walked by later. They were kind, excited about Japan, and one of them expressed interest in the JET program. I told him it's worth it. Well worth it. They were off to Hokaido next, but still wanted to see the Great Buddha, so I gave them a tip and told them to book it there or they'd miss it.
When I arrived at Kasuga Shrine, which is famous for it's festival, numerous Kasuga lanterns, and married couple deities, the people started to dwindle down. From ancient times, this shine had been respectfully worshipped for hooking people up, though match-making and happy marriages. So, people donated up the wazzoo, giving even their rice paddles (since th female deity of this shrine holds one). On 15th to the 17th of December, is a famous Festival called the Kasuga WakamiyaOn-matsuri Festival. In 1136, when a long rain caused faine and epidemics throughout the nation, this festival was started to save people. Held every year since the Heian period (12th century), the Wakamiya young imperial prince s escorted to the detached shrine and again escorted to his dwelling shrine. Again, what is most striking is the lanterns that lead up to, and decorate the place. It's a very eerie, very Japanese-looking place. I would love to see this place lit up during the festival at night, long rows of lanterns lighting the way to the temple, and the temple itself alive wth the flame of 3000 lanterns.
The hike back was uneventful. I took a bus back after wandering down some empty paths into a beautiful park, where I met a beautiful girl who took the bus with me. It didn't work out, but I found out what the specialty was. I forget it now…but I'm sure it's delicious.
Last day: Himeji!
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