Nara is an ancient capital of Japan, which is located near Kyoto. I went there to see the Todai-ji -- the biggest wooden building in the world, they say. Inside is the other big Daibutsu buddha (the more familiar one in Kamakura sits outside, exposed to the elements.) I'm also interested in the the kofun, or Keyhole Tombs of the ancient emperors, but it seems like one should be in a small aircraft to appreciate them fully, and that was beyond the scope of this expedition.

Tame deer wander around Nara Park -- here they can be seen on the approach to the ancient wooden Nandai-mon gate -- the Todai-ji is visible through it. The latter was rebuilt, a few centuries ago (and it was even larger, originally), but this gate is much older.

At the entrance of Todai-ji.

Inside, looking up at the Buddha.

Also in Nara -- ornate roof-tops and gates of private homes.

This one has the shachihoko fish at the corners of the roofline -- lucky charms to protect the structure from fire, usually seen atop castles, where they're often shiny gold.

Strings of lucky migawarazaru (also called negai-zaru) hang at the front of many houses in the old Naramachi neighborhood. They're pillowy red and white silk crafts meant to resemble a family of monkeys. A local museum called the Siryo-kan has hundreds, including a central huge one. (I did walk by, but too early -- it wasn't open yet, and the light was no good for a photo.)

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