Thursday, October 29, 2009

Shoso-in Exhibition Review

I went to Shoso-in Exhibition yesterday afternoon. Arriving Nara National Museum around 15:30, there were no lineups! Lucky me! I left my baggage in the free coin locker room provided for the exhibition visitors, and hurried myself inside.

I already had my ticket so I didn't needed to buy one. If you need to buy tickets, get them from a temporary ticket counter at JR or Kintetsu Nara Station. They have cheaper tickets than the ones sold at the museum.

At the museum entrance, personal voice guidance machines (500 yen, available in English) are available. There might be English volunteer guides available, too. Hearing explanation doubles the enjoyment of any exhibition (at least for me).

Among the numerous exhibits - beautiful in form or in craftsmanship, and interesting in its history - my favorite exhibit is exhibit no. 48 "Kingin-no-kaban." It is a silver plate ornamented with a imaginary deer "Hana-shika," a deer with antlers of flowering branches. The look of it reminds me of the deer like god "Shishi-gami" from Miyazaki's "Princess Mononoke"!

"Hana-shika" was a popular motif in T'ang Dynasty symbolizing happiness. It looks like a Princess Mononoke's deer like god. Deer is also symbolic in Nara (you'll hear why during our tour). History, Nara and even animation, just fused in this single exhibit - exhibit no. 48.

What will your favorite exhibit be?


*Find dates and admission of this exhibition in our former article: Sosho-in exhibition is COMING SOON!

Scenary of Autumn

Autumn is the season of harvest. If you have visited Nara during September to mid October, you have probably seen something triangle standing in a field (like the ones in the picture) on your train trip from Kyoto or Osaka to Nara. And you have probably wondered what they are ...

Well, they are bundles of rice straws being dried for their own harvest. Yes, as well as grain, straw is harvested. During our tour, you will see at least one example of how rice straw is utilized in Japan.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Wanna try on Kimono?

You can try on Kimono for free in Nara.

A volunteer group 'JOIN JAPAN NARA' will provide you an opportunity to get dressed in kimono and participate in a tea ceremony, once a month (usually 2nd Tuesday) at the 2nd floor of Nara City Tourism Center on Sanjo St. If you plan to stay in Nara around 2nd Tuesday, it would be a great experience to get in touch with Japanese culture of Kimono and tea ceremony.

You can choose your favorite one from their various Kimono, which are authentic and made of silk. They will also explain how to enjoy tea ceremony in English. What you need is just 200 yen, a nominal charge for tea sweets.

Visit their web-site for more informations.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

2000+ lanterns glow in darkness

Thousands of lanterns glow in dark and quiet shrine ground... it's such beautiful sight in awesome silence.

In Kasuga Grand Shrine in Nara Park, they hold "Mandoro" festival in February and August.

On the night of festival, more than 2000 stone and bronze lanterns in the precinct are lit by candle light.

You can actually take part in lighting ceremony like I do in this photo.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Kofukuji's 52 stone steps now under repair

The beautiful 52 stone steps leading the way from Sarusawa pond to Kofukuji Temple is now under repair. 52 is one of the symbolic number in Buddhism. I usually tell its meaning to guests while walking up the steps .... well, now I need to find something else to talk about!

The repair work is scheduled to complete by March 26, 2010.


Rice cake making

Have you ever seen mochi(rice cake) pounding? Here in Nara, they pound mochi several times a day at the mochi shop named 'Nakatani-do.' They won the first prize of making mochi at the TV show, 'TV Champion,' which has brought crowds of customers to this shop. They pound steamed sticky rice with wooden mortar and pestle at very high speed, and all by man-power.
You can buy just made warm yomogi-mochi(rice cake with Japanese herbs and sweet bean paste inside) from one piece (@130 yen). It's something Japanese, tasty and worth trying.
You can see their performances of pounding mochi, if you are lucky.
Your NARAWALK guids will show you the shop and the wooden mortar and pestle during our regular tour.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Herding deer by horn

Bringing in hundreds of deer by a horn in Nara Park... such a scene!

Every year in March, Nara Deer Preservation Foundtion holds this daily event starting 9a.m.

It is amazing to see many deer run out of woods and gather together around the horn player.

Deer in Nara Park is wild and well-preserved.
You'll meet them everywhere, when you visit famous Todaiji temple in Nara Park.

In this video clip, you can see the scene of deer-herding in Tobihino field in Nara Park with the sound of horn (and my son's giggle ;-)

Visit Nara, an ancient capital older than Kyoto.
You can find out more about deer in Nara in NARAWALK tours.


Shoso-in exhibition is COMING SOON!

Shoso-in is a repository of Todaiji Temple. Its treasures are composed of fine art objects which belonged to Emperor Shomu, who ordered the erection of Todaiji Temple, and temple's treasures used at the consecration of Great Buddha in 752. You can understand Nara is a terminal of 'Silk Road' to see some treasures from China and Persia.
Some of those treasures are on exhibition once a year. The 61st Shoso-in exhibition will be held:
Duration: October 24 (Sat) ~ November 12 (Thu)
At Nara National museum (New building)
Hours: 9 AM to 6 PM (to 7 PM on Fridays~Sundays & national holiday)
Admission: Adults 1000yen, High school & College students 700yen, students(1st~9th graders) 400yen, Nov. 12:free

There will be a long line of people who want to see those treasures. The line would be shorter in late afternoon. I recommend to see the exhibition after our regular tour.
Why don't you come and see the treasures of 1250 years ago!


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ashura statue back in a hall after 110 years

"Kofukuji Temple: Special Exhibition of National Treasure 2009" has begun! The main attraction of this exhibition is Ashura statue (top right picture in the poster above) and thirteen other National Treasure statues. These statues are usually shown behind glass cases in National Treasure Museum in Kofukuji Temple, but this time they are out of museum glass cases and back in a temple hall. Enjoy this rare occasion to appreciate them in a temple hall setting!

Duration: Oct 17, 2009 - Nov 23, 2009
Admission: 1500yen(adult) 1000yen(grade 7-12) 500yen(grade1-6)
Hours: Mon-Thur 9:00am ~ 5:00pm Fri-Sun&Holidays 9:00am ~ 6:00pm


Friday, October 16, 2009

Experience NARUTO in Nara?!

Are you a NARUTO fan? (For those of you who don't know NARUTO, it's a Japanese animation popular worldwide) Do you remember Japanese letters "あ(Ah)" and "うん(UN)" appearing on the entrance gate of Konoha ninja village?

Well, in Nara you can see historical and National Treasure "あ(Ah)" and "うん(UN)"! When you're visiting Todaiji Temple just pay close attention to statues at the entrance gate. Read the lips of the statues...

By the way, these two words "あ(Ah)" and "うん(UN)" are found at the entrance gate for very good reasons. You can discover the deep meaning behind "あ(Ah)" and "うん(UN)" in our tour!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

NARAWALK GUIDE's blog created

Hello, everyone.
As a member of NARAWALK - best sightseeing walking tours in Nara, I'm happy to announce our guide member blog has started!
Don't know about NARAWALK? Then, visit our brand new web site at

Our daily tour runs everyday and we welcome guests from all over the world.
If you are planning a trip to Japan, don't forget to include NARAWALK in your itinerary!

Our guide members will start writing posts to this blog soon.
Stay tuned!

Tommy - NARAWALK web site admin
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