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.
Jabula Beach, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa
Saint Lucia, South Africa

An Africa as Wild as Zulu

On the eminence of the coast of Mozambique, the province of KwaZulu-Natal is home to an unexpected South Africa. Deserted beaches full of dunes, vast estuarine swamps and hills covered with fog fill this wild land also bathed by the Indian Ocean. It is shared by the subjects of the always proud Zulu nation and one of the most prolific and diverse fauna on the African continent.
Annapurna (circuit)
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.
A Lost and Found City
Architecture & Design
Machu Picchu, Peru

The City Lost in the Mystery of the Incas

As we wander around Machu Picchu, we find meaning in the most accepted explanations for its foundation and abandonment. But whenever the complex is closed, the ruins are left to their enigmas.
Bungee jumping, Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, the Queen of Extreme Sports

In the century. XVIII, the Kiwi government proclaimed a mining village on the South Island "fit for a queen".Today's extreme scenery and activities reinforce the majestic status of ever-challenging Queenstown.
Kente Festival Agotime, Ghana, gold
Ceremonies and Festivities
Kumasi to Kpetoe, Ghana

A Celebration-Trip of the Ghanian Fashion

After some time in the great Ghanaian capital ashanti we crossed the country to the border with Togo. The reasons for this long journey were the kente, a fabric so revered in Ghana that several tribal chiefs dedicate a sumptuous festival to it every year.
scarlet summer

Valencia to Xativa, Spain (España)

Across Iberia

Leaving aside the modernity of Valencia, we explore the natural and historical settings that the "community" shares with the Mediterranean. The more we travel, the more its bright life seduces us.

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.
Saida Ksar Ouled Soltane, festival of the ksour, tataouine, tunisia
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.
Reindeer Racing, Kings Cup, Inari, Finland
Inari, Finland

The Wackiest Race on the Top of the World

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Motorcyclist in Sela Gorge, Arunachal Pradesh, India
Guwahati a Saddle Pass, India

A Worldly Journey to the Sacred Canyon of Sela

For 25 hours, we traveled the NH13, one of the highest and most dangerous roads in India. We traveled from the Brahmaputra river basin to the disputed Himalayas of the province of Arunachal Pradesh. In this article, we describe the stretch up to 4170 m of altitude of the Sela Pass that pointed us to the Tibetan Buddhist city of Tawang.
Creel, Chihuahua, Carlos Venzor, collector, museum
Chihuahua a Creel, Chihuahua, Mexico

On Creel's Way

With Chihuahua behind, we point to the southwest and to even higher lands in the north of Mexico. Next to Ciudad Cuauhtémoc, we visited a Mennonite elder. Around Creel, we lived for the first time with the Rarámuri indigenous community of the Serra de Tarahumara.
View of Fa Island, Tonga, Last Polynesian Monarchy
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

Exotic Signs of Life

Garranos gallop across the plateau above Castro Laboreiro, PN Peneda-Gerês, Portugal
Castro Laboreiro, Portugal  

From Castro de Laboreiro to the Rim of the Peneda – Gerês Range

We arrived at (i) the eminence of Galicia, at an altitude of 1000m and even more. Castro Laboreiro and the surrounding villages stand out against the granite monumentality of the mountains and the Planalto da Peneda and Laboreiro. As do its resilient people who, sometimes handed over to Brandas and sometimes to Inverneiras, still call these stunning places home.
Mahé Ilhas das Seychelles, friends of the beach
Mahé, Seychelles

The Big Island of the Small Seychelles

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Geothermal, Iceland Heat, Ice Land, Geothermal, Blue Lagoon
Winter White

The Geothermal Coziness of the Ice Island

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View from the top of Mount Vaea and the tomb, Vailima village, Robert Louis Stevenson, Upolu, Samoa
Upolu, Samoa

Stevenson's Treasure Island

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Merganser against sunset, Rio Miranda, Pantanal, Brazil
Passo do Lontra, Miranda, Brazil

The Flooded Brazil of Passo do Lontra

We are on the western edge of Mato Grosso do Sul but bush, on these sides, is something else. In an extension of almost 200.000 km2, the Brazil it appears partially submerged, by rivers, streams, lakes and other waters dispersed in vast alluvial plains. Not even the panting heat of the dry season drains the life and biodiversity of Pantanal places and farms like the one that welcomed us on the banks of the Miranda River.
Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
Iguana in Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Natural Parks
Yucatan, Mexico

The Sidereal Murphy's Law That Doomed the Dinosaurs

Scientists studying the crater caused by a meteorite impact 66 million years ago have come to a sweeping conclusion: it happened exactly over a section of the 13% of the Earth's surface susceptible to such devastation. It is a threshold zone on the Mexican Yucatan peninsula that a whim of the evolution of species allowed us to visit.
fortress wall of Novgorod and the Orthodox Cathedral of Hagia Sophia, Russia.
UNESCO World Heritage
Novgorod, Russia

Mother Russia's Viking Grandmother

For most of the past century, the USSR authorities have omitted part of the origins of the Russian people. But history leaves no room for doubt. Long before the rise and supremacy of the tsars and the soviets, the first Scandinavian settlers founded their mighty nation in Novgorod.
now from above ladder, sorcerer of new zealand, Christchurch, new zealand
Christchurch, New Zealand

New Zealand's Cursed Wizard

Despite his notoriety in the antipodes, Ian Channell, the New Zealand sorcerer, failed to predict or prevent several earthquakes that struck Christchurch. At the age of 88, after 23 years of contract with the city, he made very controversial statements and ended up fired.
Santa Marta, Tayrona, Simón Bolivar, Ecohabs of Tayrona National Park
Santa Marta and PN Tayrona, Colombia

The Paradise from which Simon Bolivar departed

At the gates of PN Tayrona, Santa Marta is the oldest continuously inhabited Hispanic city in Colombia. In it, Simón Bolívar began to become the only figure on the continent almost as revered as Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary.
Ulugh Beg, Astronomer, Samarkand, Uzbekistan, A Space Marriage
Samarkand, Uzbekistan

The Astronomer Sultan

The grandson of one of the great conquerors of Central Asia, Ulugh Beg, preferred the sciences. In 1428, he built a space observatory in Samarkand. His studies of the stars led him to name a crater on the Moon.
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.
Nissan, Fashion, Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo's fashion

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Casario, uptown, Fianarantsoa, ​​Madagascar
Daily life
Fianarantsoa, Madagascar

The Malagasy City of Good Education

Fianarantsoa was founded in 1831 by Ranavalona Iª, a queen of the then predominant Merina ethnic group. Ranavalona Iª was seen by European contemporaries as isolationist, tyrant and cruel. The monarch's reputation aside, when we enter it, its old southern capital remains as the academic, intellectual and religious center of Madagascar.
Flock of flamingos, Laguna Oviedo, Dominican Republic
Oviedo Lagoon, Dominican Republic

The (very alive) Dominican Republic Dead Sea

The hypersalinity of the Laguna de Oviedo fluctuates depending on evaporation and water supplied by rain and the flow coming from the neighboring mountain range of Bahoruco. The natives of the region estimate that, as a rule, it has three times the level of sea salt. There, we discover prolific colonies of flamingos and iguanas, among many other species that make up one of the most exuberant ecosystems on the island of Hispaniola.
Full Dog Mushing
Scenic Flights
Seward, Alaska

The Alaskan Dog Mushing Summer

It's almost 30 degrees and the glaciers are melting. In Alaska, entrepreneurs have little time to get rich. Until the end of August, dog mushing cannot stop.