Nara – Kōfuku-ji Temple

untitled-286Breakfast was provided with the booking. In the cool morning, we dined at the low table with a ‘cut out’ bottom to stretch out our legs. It was like sitting on a chair with no back rest. Steaming bowl of rice, pink teriyaki salmon, pickled vegetables, egg roll and a bowl of warm miso soup was served. A hearty breakfast indeed! It may not be everyone’s cup of tea having rice for breakfast. In Japanese culture, this is a norm. Kayoko was always attentive and asked if topping up rice and miso was required. This is a great way to start the day.

untitled-293untitled-292 untitled-294From Naramachi, we walked towards Mochidono Arcade and into one of the many side streets. There was an Indian restaurant, amongst several retail shops and eventually ended at the Sarusawa Pond surrounded with willow trees with a view of a pagoda. This is Kōfuku-ji Temple, a Hosso Buddhist Temple. Across Sanjo Dori is a steep flight of steps. At the top, on the left, is an octagonal wooden building, Nan’en- dō, and a path, on the right, towards the five storey pagoda.

untitled-291Tall pine trees lined this wide gavel path. Kōfuku-ji Temple was established in 710AD and used by the Fujiwara clan during the Nara and Heian Period. Today, however, only a few buildings remained. It included the 50m high five storey pagoda, “gojū-no- tō”, the second highest pagoda in Japan. The enclosure was locked. Apparently a large image of the Healing Buddha, “Yakushi Nyorai”, is located here. We passed the Great Eastern Hall, “Tōkon-dō”. Further walk brought us past a huge construction site – the Central Golden Hall. Then to the Northern Octagonal Hall, “Hoku’en-dō” was originally built in 721. These pair of octagonal structures are quite unique and interesting – the architecture, and are valuable as they both hold irreplaceable and priceless national treasures.

The streets were uncrowded and the walk was pleasant. Finally we reached the green lung – Nara Park, “Nara Kōen”. One entrance is marked with a red “torii”, “Ichi- no- mochi”.

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