Tōdaiji & Nara (Deer) Park

As one passes through the streets of Nara on the approach to the celebrated Tōdaiji temple, one begins to notice—first here, then there—an ever-increasing population of deer relaxing and littering lawns and streets, parks, and perhaps even the interiors of certain stores. As one reaches the beautiful deer park at the foot of the great temple, the deer seem almost as populous as people. And they appear every bit as tame. Stand still for too long and chances are good that you’ll catch one nosing into your pants pocket in search of food.

But alas, beyond the gauntlet of fauna is Tōdaiji, and its most breathtaking feature—a massive bronze Buddha image, several stories tall, said to be the largest in the world. His raised right hand is as tall as a human being, and his head is some 20’ tall. Impressive in scale and beauty.