Wild Weekly Photo Challenge: Forest – Nara Forest Dwellers’ Retreat

I’m participating in the online adventure travel and photography magazine LetsBeWild.com’s Wild Weekly Photo Challenge for bloggers.  This week’s challenge is: Forest! – my entries for other weeks can be found here.

Nara Forest Dwellers’ Retreat by Seas Reflecting Starlight

The town of Nara, Japan is unique in how the local historical sites blend in to the beautiful winding trails through a forest full of deer. These deer are extremely friendly and used to people, and don’t shy away from walking right up to you (and eating the special deer crackers sold in the shops). Unlike in some other cities where there are tame deer like Miyajima, in which the deer come right into town, in Nara it feels like it is the people who are visiting the deer in their forest home.

What a peaceful forest it is! You wouldn’t expect a popular tourist destination to have such an atmosphere, but it is thanks to the natural surroundings. There are enough small walking trails that it is possible to leave the crowds and the modern world behind, and enter the serene world of small tea houses, ancient temples like Tōdai-ji, and deer who embody their spiritual surroundings.

If I was a deer, I’d want to live in Nara.

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travel bags and more

Available at my Glimmering Glade Zazzle store.

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A few shout-outs to some other entries that I liked:

  • photosandpursuits takes us up close to the forest floor for a look at some beautifully brightly colored mushrooms.
  • lagottocattleya shares some poetic thoughts about forests along with some luminous and colorful photos.
  • figliodelgiaguaro shows us a gorgeous waterfall in the middle of the forests of Cameroon.
  • shyraven23 takes us through softly lit trails alongside mossy logs, to aspen groves.
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Design: Nara Buddha / Nara Daibutsu

This design is based on my photo of the Nara Daibutsu (Large Buddha), one of the largest indoor Buddha statues in the world at 15 meters tall. It is located in Nara, one of the historical capitals of Japan, in Todaiji – a temple that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Nara Daibutsu

I love Nara.  It’s only a short train ride from Kyoto, and is a small easily walkable town.  The cute little friendly deer are everywhere, and will eat crackers right out of your hand.  It’s a very picturesque and peaceful setting, that’s also great for a history buff like me who likes to wander around ancient temples, museums, and historical sites.  Nara is a place where you can feed a few deer, visit a great awe-inspiring Buddha so large you cannot even reach his hand, stop to relax under the falling momiji leaves while sipping a nice hot cup of matcha, and still have ample time to stroll through the various winding trails around the town.  It’s a window into the traditional Japan of olden days, without the same modern bustling of nearby Kyoto.

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