Nara, Japan

The Colossal Cradle of the Japanese Buddhism

Visitors admire the huge statue of Buddha Vairocana Buddha, 15 meters high and 500 tons.
Great Hall of Buddha
The world's largest ancient wooden building, Daibutsuden, in the center of Todai-ji temple.
Visitor runs away from a stalking deer beyond a temple access portal.
Smoking Ritual
Couple place an incense stick at the entrance to the Great Hall of Buddha.
Nara crowd
Visitors walk along the boulevard that leads to Todai-ji temple.
divine healer
Faithful caress parts of the body of Binzuru Sonja, Japanese god of healing and good eyesight.
Amplified Driving
Guide armed with a megaphone leads a group of Asian visitors.
Buddhist Guardian
Statue of a nio guardian, one of the protectors of the Buddha Daibutsu.
tight passage
A Japanese high school student crosses the hole in a pillar in the Great Hall, an unavoidable ritual of the Todai-ji temple.
Curiosity and indifference
Japanese man inspects a statue of a nio guardian, next to a lethargic deer.
Todai-ji Autumn
The Great Hall Daibutsuden across the lake from Todai-ji temple.
in grips
Young Japanese man tries to pass through the hole in the pillar of the Great Hall of Buddha.
golden tips
Detail of Buddhist architecture in the Great Hall of Buddha.
Buddhist Guardian II
Statue of a nio guardian, one of the protectors of the Buddha Daibutsu.
Curiosity and indifference II
Couple peeks inside a wooden fence, next to a deer that waits for its opportunity.
Nara has long since ceased to be the capital and its Todai-ji temple has been demoted. But the Great Hall remains the largest ancient wooden building in the world. And it houses the greatest bronze Vairocana Buddha.

Dessi, a Javanese hostess who sought to adapt to Nara's traditionalist and closed soul, had told us wonders of the Todai-ji shrine, the Great Temple of the East.

Despite being sensational, its description only increased our curiosity and made us rush to discover the monument.

The Sudden Sighting of the Great Todai-ji

We toured the entire vast Nara Park. After passing the various access portals to the enclosure, we come across the huge main temple Daibutsuden (Great Hall of Buddha) that does not disappoint.

Todai-ji Temple, Nara, Japan

The Great Hall Daibutsuden across the lake from Todai-ji temple.

Elegant and imposing, typical Buddhist architectural lines stand out in it, culminating in a double roof that projects laterally from the base body like a kind of Asian chapel.

In the center of the great hall, protected by two guardians Child The colossal and record-breaking bronze statue (15 meters high, 500 tons) of the Vairocana Buddha – in Japan, Daibutsu – stands out as menacing.

Guardian nio, Todai ji Temple, Nara, Japan

Statue of a nio guardian, one of the protectors of the Buddha Daibutsu.

It greets visitors and believers who, after purifying themselves at the entrance with incense smoke, now admire its magnificence.

Past the Nio Guardians, various faces of Buddha and Buddhism

The immensity of the building's wood is renewed in distinct spaces. In each of them, Buddhism demands different proofs of faith. One of them turns out to be a real contortionist challenge.

A line is formed in front of one of the pillars that support the Daibutsuden. Entire families and school trips of young Japanese are photographed passing back and forth through a tight hole in its base believed to be the same width as Daibutsu's nostrils.

Todai-ji Temple Ritual, Nara, Japan

A Japanese high school student crosses the hole in a pillar in the Great Hall, an unavoidable ritual of the Todai-ji temple.

This passage is supposed to grant spiritual liberation to those who achieve it, but when it comes to some suitors from northern Europe and North America, the challenge becomes serious. Instead of being freed, some have to be rescued from a distressing suffocation.

Faithful to Buddhist mythology, any ailments resulting from the squeeze can always be resolved by Binzuru Sonja, Japanese god of healing and good vision.

Leaving Daibutsuden, we see several elderly faithful simultaneously touching and rubbing their hands on different parts of the statue of this deity in order to try to overcome health problems they have in equivalent areas of their bodies.

Buddhist faithful play Binzuru Sonja, next to Todai ji temple, Nara, Japan

Faithful caress body parts of Binzuru Sonja, Japanese god of healing and good vision

With the mobility that Japanese longevity grants them, patients rush to follow their guides, always clearly identified by colored flags.

The Millennial Chinese Origin of Architecture, Writing and So Much More

Despite the centuries-old Sino-Japanese enmity, more and more of these tourist entourages are also Chinese and their participants delight in the exuberant Japanese culture. Some of them only discover on the spot that it was their Han nation that inspired them.

With less than 400.000 inhabitants, Nara is today an insignificant city by Japanese standards. But from 710 to 784 AD, it was promoted to revolutionary capital. By that time, Japanese society was predominantly rural, based on primitive villages and made up of communities that worshiped the kami (spirits) of natural forces and their ancestors.

Buddhist ritual with incense, Todai ji temple, Nara, Japan

Couple place an incense stick at the entrance to the Great Hall of Buddha.

But the political and cultural influence of powerful China was felt like never before.

And when the emperors dictated the construction of Heijo-Kyo (Nara's predecessor), following the Chang'an grid and Confucian model (today's Xi'an), a city of palaces, silks, wealth and widespread opulence changed to always the local landscape, until then formed by forests and agricultural fields.

Writing also arrived from China (which the Japanese continue to use as an alphabet kanji) and various artistic currents.

And the Passage of Buddhism across the Sea of ​​Japan

The most important cultural development carried out by Nara was, however, the flourishing of Buddhism, consolidated by the installation of large monasteries and their schools of thought that had distinguished themselves on the other side of the Sea of ​​Japan, during the Tang dynasty.

The practice of the new religion began by being confined to the capital, but under the rule of Prince Shotoku, it definitely influenced the Japanese government, which was fascinated in particular by the Golden Light Sutra, according to which Buddha was defined not only as a human being. historical but as the Law and Truth of the Universe.

Golden Tips of the Great Hall of Buddha, Todai ji Temple, Nara, Japan

Detail of Buddhist architecture in the Great Hall of Buddha.

Adoption by rulers and by the palace aristocracy, in general, gave Buddhism an unprecedented vitality and its teachings – adapted to reality and crossed with ancient Shinto mythology – quickly infected the Japanese islands.

These days, Buddhism continues to govern its spirituality and culture, in tune with the much older precepts of the shinto.

In Nara, like all over the country, this dichotomy is displayed in the most varied forms, from the refined and sublime to the most caricatured.

Visitors vs Deer, Todai-ji and Nara Park's Inescapable Battle

A longitudinal crowd roams the centuries-old avenue that leads outside the Todai-ji shrine and into the heart of vast Nara Park.

Crowd of visitors to Todai ji in Nara, Japan

Visitors walk along the boulevard leading to Todai-ji temple

Its flow is disturbed only by the presence of squads of the city's famous deer (deer nippon) who keep a keen eye and scrutinize passersby to beg or steal from them the delicacies they carry, in particular the biscuits shika sembei, for sale in stalls distributed throughout the gardens and concentrated outside the monuments.

At first amused by the bad experiences of others, we soon found ourselves also afflicted and having to run to get rid of their relentless pursuits.

Visitors to Todai Ji Temple and Deer, Nara, Japan

Couple peeks inside a wooden fence, next to a deer that waits for its opportunity.

According to Shinto mythology recorded in the Kazuga shrine of Nara, the god Takemikazuchi would have arrived riding a white deer to protect the newly built capital.

When the legend became popular, animals came to be considered sacred messengers of the gods. Several centuries later, they still roam the streets and parks, now protected by city law.

Visitor harassed by deer, Todai-ji temple, Nara, Japan

Visitor flees a stalking deer beyond a temple access portal

A Providential Refuge in the Heights

Desperate to get rid of the deer harassment, we climbed to the highest point of the village, Mount Kaigahira-yama (822m). From there, we unveil an impressive panorama of the city in general and some of the imposing buildings that project from it.

We also observed how the inevitable urban development had invaded the adjoining valley, extending around the historic center and from the urban axis that is Sanjo-dori, the most important of its commercial avenues.

This was, however, the contemporary nara. We reserve it for the days of Kansai that followed.

Tokyo, Japan

The Endless Night of the Rising Sun Capital

Say that Tokyo do not sleep is an understatement. In one of the largest and most sophisticated cities on the face of the Earth, twilight marks only the renewal of the frenetic daily life. And there are millions of souls that either find no place in the sun, or make more sense in the “dark” and obscure turns that follow.
Bingling Yes, China

The Canyon of a Thousand Buddhas

For more than a millennium and at least seven dynasties, Chinese devotees have extolled their religious belief with the legacy of sculpture in a remote strait of the Yellow River. If you disembark in the Canyon of Thousand Buddhas, you may not find all the sculptures, but you will find a stunning Buddhist shrine.
Guwahati, India

The City that Worships Kamakhya and the Fertility

Guwahati is the largest city in the state of Assam and in North East India. It is also one of the fastest growing in the world. For Hindus and devout believers in Tantra, it will be no coincidence that Kamakhya, the mother goddess of creation, is worshiped there.
Kyoto, Japan

The Kyoto Temple Reborn from the Ashes

The Golden Pavilion has been spared destruction several times throughout history, including that of US-dropped bombs, but it did not withstand the mental disturbance of Hayashi Yoken. When we admired him, he looked like never before.
Miyajima, Japan

Shintoism and Buddhism with the Tide

Visitors to the Tori of Itsukushima admire one of the three most revered scenery in Japan. On the island of Miyajima, Japanese religiosity blends with Nature and is renewed with the flow of the Seto Inland Sea.
Lhasa, Tibet

When Buddhism Tires of Meditation

It is not only with silence and spiritual retreat that one seeks Nirvana. At the Sera Monastery, the young monks perfect their Buddhist knowledge with lively dialectical confrontations and crackling clapping of hands.
Takayama, Japan

From the Ancient Japan to the Medieval Hida

In three of its streets, Takayama retains traditional wooden architecture and concentrates old shops and sake producers. Around it, it approaches 100.000 inhabitants and surrenders to modernity.
Kyoto, Japan

An Almost Lost Millennial Japan

Kyoto was on the US atomic bomb target list and it was more than a whim of fate that preserved it. Saved by an American Secretary of War in love with its historical and cultural richness and oriental sumptuousness, the city was replaced at the last minute by Nagasaki in the atrocious sacrifice of the second nuclear cataclysm.
Magome-Tsumago, Japan

Magome to Tsumago: The Overcrowded Path to the Medieval Japan

In 1603, the Tokugawa shogun dictated the renovation of an ancient road system. Today, the most famous stretch of the road that linked Edo to Kyoto is covered by a mob eager to escape.
Lhasa, Tibet

Sera, the Monastery of the Sacred Debate

In few places in the world a dialect is used as vehemently as in the monastery of Sera. There, hundreds of monks, in Tibetan, engage in intense and raucous debates about the teachings of the Buddha.
Bagan, Myanmar

The Plain of Pagodas, Temples and other Heavenly Redemptions

Burmese religiosity has always been based on a commitment to redemption. In Bagan, wealthy and fearful believers continue to erect pagodas in hopes of winning the benevolence of the gods.
Kyoto, Japan

A Combustible Faith

During the Shinto celebration of Ohitaki, prayers inscribed on tablets by the Japanese faithful are gathered at the Fushimi temple. There, while being consumed by huge bonfires, her belief is renewed.
Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique, Wildlife, lions
NP Gorongosa, Mozambique

The Wild Heart of Mozambique shows Signs of Life

Gorongosa was home to one of the most exuberant ecosystems in Africa, but from 1980 to 1992 it succumbed to the Civil War waged between FRELIMO and RENAMO. Greg Carr, Voice Mail's millionaire inventor received a message from the Mozambican ambassador to the UN challenging him to support Mozambique. For the good of the country and humanity, Carr pledged to resurrect the stunning national park that the Portuguese colonial government had created there.
Hikers on the Ice Lake Trail, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 7th - Braga - Ice Lake, Nepal

Annapurna Circuit – The Painful Acclimatization of the Ice Lake

On the way up to the Ghyaru village, we had a first and unexpected show of how ecstatic the Annapurna Circuit can be tasted. Nine kilometers later, in Braga, due to the need to acclimatize, we climbed from 3.470m from Braga to 4.600m from Lake Kicho Tal. We only felt some expected tiredness and the increase in the wonder of the Annapurna Mountains.
Alaskan Lumberjack Show Competition, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA
Architecture & Design
Ketchikan, Alaska

Here begins Alaska

The reality goes unnoticed in most of the world, but there are two Alaskas. In urban terms, the state is inaugurated in the south of its hidden frying pan handle, a strip of land separated from the contiguous USA along the west coast of Canada. Ketchikan, is the southernmost of Alaskan cities, its Rain Capital and the Salmon Capital of the World.
Salto Angel, Rio that falls from the sky, Angel Falls, PN Canaima, Venezuela
PN Canaima, Venezuela

Kerepakupai, Salto Angel: The River that Falls from Heaven

In 1937, Jimmy Angel landed a light aircraft on a plateau lost in the Venezuelan jungle. The American adventurer did not find gold but he conquered the baptism of the longest waterfall on the face of the Earth
Saida Ksar Ouled Soltane, festival of the ksour, tataouine, tunisia
Ceremonies and Festivities
Tataouine, Tunisia

Festival of the Ksour: Sand Castles That Don't Collapse

The ksour were built as fortifications by the Berbers of North Africa. They resisted Arab invasions and centuries of erosion. Every year, the Festival of the Ksour pays them the due homage.
Frederiksted, Saint Cross, US Virgin Islands

The Emancipation City of the Danish West Indies

If Christiansted established itself as the capital and main commercial center of the island of Saint Croix, the “sister” of the leeward side, Frederiksted had its civilizational apogee when there was the revolt and subsequent liberation of the slaves that ensured the colony's prosperity.
Beverage Machines, Japan

The Beverage Machines Empire

There are more than 5 million ultra-tech light boxes spread across the country and many more exuberant cans and bottles of appealing drinks. The Japanese have long since stopped resisting them.
Bride gets in car, traditional wedding, Meiji temple, Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Japan

A Matchmaking Sanctuary

Tokyo's Meiji Temple was erected to honor the deified spirits of one of the most influential couples in Japanese history. Over time, it specialized in celebrating traditional weddings.
Reindeer Racing, Kings Cup, Inari, Finland
Inari, Finland

The Wackiest Race on the Top of the World

Finland's Lapps have been competing in the tow of their reindeer for centuries. In the final of the Kings Cup - Porokuninkuusajot - , they face each other at great speed, well above the Arctic Circle and well below zero.
Aurora lights up the Pisang Valley, Nepal.
Annapurna Circuit: 3rd- Upper Banana, Nepal

An Unexpected Snowy Aurora

At the first glimmers of light, the sight of the white mantle that had covered the village during the night dazzles us. With one of the toughest walks on the Annapurna Circuit ahead of us, we postponed the match as much as possible. Annoyed, we left Upper Pisang towards Escort when the last snow faded.
Basotho Cowboys, Malealea, Lesotho
Malealea, Lesotho

Life in the African Kingdom of Heaven

Lesotho is the only independent state located entirely above XNUMX meters. It is also one of the countries at the bottom of the world ranking of human development. Its haughty people resist modernity and all the adversities on the magnificent but inhospitable top of the Earth that befell them.
sunlight photography, sun, lights
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Natural Light (Part 2)

One Sun, So Many Lights

Most travel photos are taken in sunlight. Sunlight and weather form a capricious interaction. Learn how to predict, detect and use at its best.
Rostov Veliky Kremlin, Russia
Rostov Veliky, Russia

Under the Domes of the Russian Soul

It is one of the oldest and most important medieval cities, founded during the still pagan origins of the nation of the tsars. At the end of the XNUMXth century, incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Moscow, it became an imposing center of orthodox religiosity. Today, only the splendor of kremlin Muscovite trumps the citadel of tranquil and picturesque Rostov Veliky.
View of Serra do Cume, Terceira Island, Unique Azores
Terceira Island, Azores

Terceira Island: Journey through a Unique Archipelago of the Azores

It was called the Island of Jesus Christ and has radiated, for a long time, the cult of the Holy Spirit. It houses Angra do Heroísmo, the oldest and most splendid city in the archipelago. These are just two examples. The attributes that make Terceira island unique are endless.
Maksim, Sami people, Inari, Finland-2
Winter White
Inari, Finland

The Guardians of Boreal Europe

Long discriminated against by Scandinavian, Finnish and Russian settlers, the Sami people regain their autonomy and pride themselves on their nationality.
Couple visiting Mikhaylovskoe, village where writer Alexander Pushkin had a home
Saint Petersburg e Mikhaylovkoe, Russia

The Writer Who Succumbed to His Own Plot

Alexander Pushkin is hailed by many as the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. But Pushkin also dictated an almost tragicomic epilogue to his prolific life.
Suspension Bridge, Cabro Muco, Miravalles volcano
miravalles, Costa Rica

The volcano that Miravalles

At 2023 meters, the Miravalles stands out in northern Costa Rica, high above a range of pairs that includes La Giganta, Tenório, Espiritu Santo, Santa Maria, Rincón de La Vieja and Orosi. Inactive with respect to eruptions, it feeds a prolific geothermal field that warms the lives of Costa Ricans in its shadow.
Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
Yerevan, Armenia

A Capital between East and West

Heiress of the Soviet civilization, aligned with the great Russia, Armenia allows itself to be seduced by the most democratic and sophisticated ways of Western Europe. In recent times, the two worlds have collided in the streets of your capital. From popular and political dispute, Yerevan will dictate the new course of the nation.
Faithful light candles, Milarepa Grotto temple, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Natural Parks
Annapurna Circuit: 9th Manang to Milarepa Cave, Nepal

A Walk between Acclimatization and Pilgrimage

In full Annapurna Circuit, we finally arrived in Manang (3519m). we still need acclimatize to the higher stretches that followed, we inaugurated an equally spiritual journey to a Nepalese cave of Milarepa (4000m), the refuge of a siddha (sage) and Buddhist saint.
Traditional houses, Bergen, Norway.
UNESCO World Heritage
Bergen, Norway

The Great Hanseatic Port of Norway

Already populated in the early 1830th century, Bergen became the capital, monopolized northern Norwegian commerce and, until XNUMX, remained one of the largest cities in Scandinavia. Today, Oslo leads the nation. Bergen continues to stand out for its architectural, urban and historical exuberance.
Ooty, Tamil Nadu, Bollywood Scenery, Heartthrob's Eye
Ooty, India

In Bollywood's Nearly Ideal Setting

The conflict with Pakistan and the threat of terrorism made filming in Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh a drama. In Ooty, we see how this former British colonial station took the lead.
Balandra Beach, Mexico, Baja California, aerial view
Balandra beach e El Tecolote, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Seaside Treasures of the Sea of ​​Cortés

Often proclaimed the most beautiful beach in Mexico, we find a serious case of landscape exoticism in the jagged cove of Playa Balandra. The duo if forms with the neighbour Playa Tecolote, is one of the truly unmissable beachfronts of the vast Baja California.
Annapurna Circuit: 5th - Ngawal a BragaNepal

Towards the Nepalese Braga

We spent another morning of glorious weather discovering Ngawal. There is a short journey towards Manang, the main town on the way to the zenith of the Annapurna circuit. We stayed for Braga (Braka). The hamlet would soon prove to be one of its most unforgettable places.
End of the World Train, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
On Rails
Ushuaia, Argentina

Last Station: End of the World

Until 1947, the Tren del Fin del Mundo made countless trips for the inmates of the Ushuaia prison to cut firewood. Today, passengers are different, but no other train goes further south.
Mahu, Third Sex Polynesia, Papeete, Tahiti
Papeete, French Polynesia

The Third Sex of Tahiti

Heirs of Polynesian ancestral culture, the Mahu they preserve an unusual role in society. Lost somewhere between the two genders, these men-women continue to fight for the meaning of their lives.
Coin return
Daily life
Dawki, India

Dawki, Dawki, Bangladesh on sight

We descended from the high and mountainous lands of Meghalaya to the flats to the south and below. There, the translucent and green stream of the Dawki forms the border between India and Bangladesh. In a damp heat that we haven't felt for a long time, the river also attracts hundreds of Indians and Bangladeshis in a picturesque escape.
female and cub, grizzly footsteps, katmai national park, alaska
PN Katmai, Alaska

In the Footsteps of the Grizzly Man

Timothy Treadwell spent summers on end with the bears of Katmai. Traveling through Alaska, we followed some of its trails, but unlike the species' crazy protector, we never went too far.
The Sounds, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Fiordland, New Zealand

The Fjords of the Antipodes

A geological quirk made the Fiordland region the rawest and most imposing in New Zealand. Year after year, many thousands of visitors worship the sub-domain slashed between Te Anau and Milford Sound.