The Great Buddha

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Street photography

We enter the vast hall. It takes a few seconds to adjust the eyesight from the string sunlight to the hall’s shadows. It is like the Great Buddha statue emerges from the shadow, gaining details as the eyesight adjusts to the light inside the hall.

The first thing that emerges is the huge hand that points to the entrance. Then some the details fo the face and the peaceful expression.

The hand symbolises peace, benevolence, protection and defeat of fear.

People stand in front of the star. The hands are placed together, holding incense sticks. They pray with closed eyes and bow their heads.

I look at the people. Follow their movements. Look up to the Buddha. This is a special place. There is energy. There is peacefulness. There are the thoughts, feelings, and prayers of the many, many, many people who have come here for a moment for themselves and in themselves over a very long time.

I am happy to be here.

Old capital

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Nara is one fo the old capitals of Japan. En imperial city with ancient palaces and temples.

One morning we went to the Tōdai-ji temple (Eastern Great Temple). This is a Buddhist temple complex originally founded in the year 738 CE. The temple has undergone several reconstructions since then, with the most significant reconstruction taking place in 1709 with that of the Great Buddha Hall which houses the world’s largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana.

To the temple, Nara 2011

Bus station

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It was easy to travel by bus in Nara. We got printed maps from the Tourism Office. They were written in Japanese end English.

At the bus stop, people would help with directions and pointing to the right bus to jump on.

The bus drivers were in uniform and wore white gloves. They greeted the passenger entering the front door.

The a/c was usually at full blast inside the bus and gave me chills when entering.

Bus station, Nara 2011

Architect studio

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We were at a bus stop waiting for a bus. There was a blockhouse on the other side of the street—just three floors. On the second floor was a large window with a row of books.

I always thought it was the window of the studio of an architect. I imagined the room on the other side of the window. The room is small but enough for one person to work comfortably. A large, slightly inclined desk with a large piece of paper and initial sketches of a new house. Somebody’s new home.

A small kitchen corner with a filter coffee machine. A microwave end small rice cooker. An armchair and net to it a design standing lamp. Next to it is a simple wooden shelf with a small hi-fi system and a pile of CDs. The radio is on.

Studio, Nara 2011

Quiet neighbourhood

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We walked in a quiet neighbourhood near the YouthHostel we stayed. We were looking for a supermarket. The roads were more like lanes. Too narrow for a car. It was early afternoon and everyone was sheltering in their homes.

It was hot and humid. The cicadas and the silence of the streets.

Corner, Nara 2011
Decor, Nara 2011

From Osaka to Nara

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Street photography

I will continue to stay in Japan this coming week. We were there in August 2011. I go through those images on my computer. I select the ones I want to share. I edit them to black and white.

Sometimes I am in doubt. Should I keep the original image’s colour or change it back and white? My memories are in colour. They accompany the sound of people talking to each other. The cicadas were hidden in the trees and singing in the heat of the summer.

Is it ok to mix colour photographs with black and white ones?

This week: I am moving from Osaka to Nara: the city of temples.

Wikipedia says: “Nara is the capital city of Nara Prefecture. It is the sixth-largest city in the  Kansai region. Nara was the capital of Japan during the Nara period from 710 to 794 as the seat of the Emperor before the capital was moved to Kyoto.”

Local railway, Nara 2011
Ferrovia locale, Nara 2011

Early evening

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The afternoon was turning into the early evening.

We sat on a bench and looked at the castle’s wall. I remember hearing the sound of the sparrows flying above us. I looked up. It was the sign that the evening was beginning and that we had to head back to our ryokan and rest a bit before going out again and looking for a place to have dinner.

Ginko Biloba

Street photography

When I was young and living at home I remember that at home we always had a small Gingko plant in a flower pot on our terrace. The Ginko is originally from China but I always associated East Asia and Japan.

We saw many Ginkgo trees at the castle.

It is an ancient plant. Here is what ChatGPT says: “Ginkgo biloba is a type of tree that is native to China and is considered a living fossil because it has remained unchanged for over 200 million years. Its leaves contain compounds that are believed to have medicinal properties, and it is commonly used in traditional medicine to improve memory and cognitive function.

Roof corner, Osaka 2011
Ancient leaves, Osaka 2011