Daibutsu

The Great Buddha of Nara: this is one of those times when you thank your telephoto or macro lens for acting as a miniature telescope, because this level of detail is not visible from the ground. 

As the name implies, this Buddha inside Todai-ji is enormous. In fact, it's the world's largest bronze Buddha Vairocana.

Spring

Alexander Pushkin in "Autumn":

This is my time: I am not fond of spring;
The tiresome thaw, the stench, the mud - spring sickens me.
The blood ferments, and yearning binds the heart and mind.
With cruel winter I am better satisfied,
I love the snows; when in the moonlight
A sleigh ride swift and carefree with a friend.
Who, warm and rosy 'neath a sable mantle,
Burns, trembles as she clasps your hand.

 (I like spring before the rain season, by the way.)

Nara? Narnia

As I've mentioned before, I've been visiting Japan "backward": from lesser-known places like Morioka during my very first trip working up to major tourist attractions like Narnia...err...Nara today.

One of the biggest deterrents? The other "Western" tourists. Why, yes, I realize that, to a certain extent, this sounds hypocritical, though I'd like to convince myself that the kind of photography I do is a little more serious. (All photos here were shot merely by an iPad.)

Today, however, I found out that even a place brimming with the non-Japanese can be wonderful. It's all about the company you keep.

That is, this is the case if you're sufficiently sleep-deprived, which makes everything a bit more funny, and your unofficial tour guide is your very own former Japanese teacher, to whom you normally refer as Mister Middlemountain. 

The latter and I went on many adventures in Narnia. We fought off some overly dependent and permanently hungry deer, which are the perfect metaphor for the welfare-state citizens; got soaked in the rain; did not climb through Buddha's nostril; passed by the Girl Who Was Death; got soaked some more; listened to hooting owls; unsuccessfully looked for predatory mammals (who ate all that deer before the welfare state?); more rain; saw many predatory birds; found X-rated bamboo; almost bought a pregnancy-wish charm at a shrine by accident (okay, this was my accidental almost-doing, I ended up buying a generic good-luck one to cover all the bases!); got lost in the woods slightly fearing the local ghosts and the second appearance by the Girl Who Was Death, this time, perhaps, with a scythe; and, exhausted, barely made it to my Shinkansen back to Tokyo, where I write this now.

Doesn't this sound exactly like something one would expect from a magical place like Narnia? 

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Oh, and this:

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