Last weekend IES Abroad took us to Nara, the first capital of Japan. We went by bus, and arrived 3 hours after leaving Nagoya.
We met up with volunteer guides from Nara, and went first to Todaiji, the temple with the largest bronze Buddha statue.
There are, of course, a lot of deer around Nara! You could buy deer biscuits (shika senbei) to give them.
We stayed at a ryokan (Japanese inn) called Mikasa, with a great view of Nara at night.
The next day we went to the top of Mount Wakakusa.
Afterwards, we went with a volunteer guide to Toshodaiji Temple. It was built by Ganjin, the Chinese priest invited to Japan to teach Japanese monks “real” Buddhism.
If you have noticed, the roofs of the main halls in temples Nara have two curved structures on them. They are meant to represent fish tails, which means that the whole temple is immersed in water, and this acts as a symbolic protection against fire.
The guide also showed us kingyo-tsubaki, a kind of camellia tree with leaves that look like goldfish! He told us that this certain type of tree is very rare, and that there are only three of them in Japan.
Afterwards we went to a temple to have Shojin Ryori, which is vegetarian cuisine eaten by Buddhist monks in Japan. No meat or eggs were used, and everything was prepared in a beautiful way. I did not know that such a wide range of tastes and textures could be made from just tofu and vegetables.
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<div><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Anh hailed from Hanoi, Vietnam and is currently a sophomore at Haverford College, Pennsylvania. She plans to major in Computer Science, but decided to take a non-CompSci semester abroad before coming back to it in her junior year (after all, when else will she get the chance?). In her free time she enjoys reading, exploring new places and new types of food, people-watching, as well as reading food blogs, planning to make every single dish that catches her eye, and then completely forgetting about them. She is as excited to blog about her journey as she is about her Spring semester in Nagoya!</span></div>