Last weekend I took a trip to Nara with my Japanese Religion Class Despite the fact that it rained the entire time we were there it was still an amazing experience. I was soaked and tired and I am pretty sure that I caught a cold from being in the rain but I don't regret going at all. Nara is about an hour to an hour and a half train ride from Osaka and it has many cultural and religious shrines and temples.
Nara is also famous for the deer there. There are hundreds of deer everywhere! They are very tame and will come up to you and let you pet them. But watch out! They might try to eat your clothes or other items. You can buy special crackers to feed to the deer but once they know you have food they will all swarm you. My friend tried feeding her and about 5 deer swarmed her. One even bit her trying to get to the food!
The deer were a little scary but the highlight of the trip was seeing the famous Daibutsu there. Daibutsu is the Japanese term for big Buddha. We paid about 5 dollars to go into this enormous temple where inside was the most amazing giant Buddha! It was probably the coolest thing I had seen in Japan so far. We also visited a few other shrines. One shrine we visited had several Omiko or shrine maidens working and selling fortunes there. In Japan it is tradition to tie a bad fortune to a tree so that it won't come true.
We also visited a museum that contained a lot of religious statues and relics, many of which were related to Buddhism. The trip was so much fun and we learned a lot about religion as well since our professor was the guide.