Today was like nothing I have ever experienced before. Today we went to Nara Park. Nara Park is special for multiple reasons but my favorite part was how the local Sika Deer (regarded as messengers of the gods in the Japanese Shinto religion) just wander around the town and the park. You can pet them, take photos of them, bow to them (and they will bow back!) and you can even buy special crackers to feed them. I found a much cheaper and more fun way to feed them: ripping up grass and hand feeding it to them. After we got over how cute the deer were, we ventured deeper into the Park towards the Tōdai-ji. The Tōdai-ji’s Great Buddha Hall is the largest wooden structure in the world and when it was built in the mid-8th century, it almost bankrupted the entire Japanese government. After a series of natural disasters, the temple was built along with many other smaller temples in the Tenpyō Era by Emperor Shōmu, as he believed that such piety would inspire Buddha to protect his country’s lands from further disasters. The Great Buddha Hall contains a 49-foot-tall Buddha made of gold and bronze. Massive! Another funny part of our walk through the park was that several groups of school girls wanted to take random photos with me, and I still haven’t figured out why. For lunch, we had a type of Japanese pancake called Okonomiyaki, and then hopped the bus back to our new friend Miyuki’s traditional Japanese house on the outskirts of town where we are staying for the next couple of days. We made it home just before the rain started falling!

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