Hi, everyone! It’s been a long time! How have you been? Today we’ll be revisiting the Kansai region and this time I’m going to talk about Nara and Kobe. First, let’s take a look at Nara.
Nara is famous for having many world heritage buildings, shrines, and temples. I especially recommend that you go to “Yakushiji”. Yakushiji is one of the most famous temples in Nara. It has a building to commemorate the gods of medicine.
You can enjoy seeing beautiful ancient statues as well as listening to a special sermon from a Buddhist monk; it’s surprisingly funny! The monks of Yakushiji manage to grab the hearts of everyone listening — the students, the teachers, the guides and the tour conductors with their comedic storytelling skills. They are so famous that people from all over Japan come to listen to them.
Speaking of Yakushiji’s monks, my favorite monk is Mr. Murakami. He is the funniest monk in Yakushiji. It’s difficult to get a chance to talk to him because he has always been popular and is always surrounded by students and teachers. However, I got a chance to talk to him once. I told him I was his biggest fan and got to shake his hand.
Speaking of Nara, there is also the Todaiji Temple Daibutsu and many deer in Nara Park. First, I would like to talk about the Daibutsu. A long time ago, Japan was stricken by a great famine and natural disasters. The Shomu emperor built the Daibutsu statue of the buddha to pray to god for help. He collected gold and wood from all over Japan to build it. Since its construction, it has been damaged by fires and sometimes by disasters and war, but it has always been rebuilt by people and it still stands today.
One time, the Daibutsu’s eyeball got damaged and they tried to repair it, but they had no idea how to reach inside and place a new one there. One guy rose to the challenge. The man went inside the Daibutsu eye and he pulled the eyeball into place from the inside. Everyone was curious about how the man would come out from there. The man emerged from the Daibutsu’s nose! He was admired as clever by everyone who saw him. A famous Japanese saying about cleverness was created from this story “目から鼻に抜けた” (me kara hana ni nuketa) which literally means “through the eye, out the nose”.The meaning is similar to the English saying “as sharp as a needle.”
By the way, in the temple, there is a column with an opening as wide as Daibutsu’s nose hole and legend has it that people who crawl through it will become smart.
Deer were also considered sacred at a similar level to Daibutsu because legend has it that some gods used deer as mounts when traveling. So, I will discuss a few stories about deer in Nara. Did you know one of the Hanafuda cards has drawings of a maple tree and a deer? Once upon a time, a boy called Sansaku was practicing calligraphy in a room but a deer came into the room and suddenly ate his paper. The paper was his best work. He was angry and he threw a paperweight at the deer to dismiss it, but accidentally killed it. At the time, if someone killed a deer, they would have received the death sentence even if they were kids. So, Sansaku was forced to dig a grave by himself. He went into it with the deer’s dead body and was buried alive with it and covered by rocks and blocks. His mother was very sad and she planted a maple tree on the grave as an offering.
Killing a deer wasn’t the only deer-related law the people of the town had to follow. If a deer died in front of someone’s house in the morning by accident, they had to pay 3 mon (Japan’s old currency). So, they usually woke up early to check whether a deer had died or not in front of their house. If a deer had died, they dragged it to the next house and left it there. When the town patrol came around in the morning, whoever’s house it was found in front of had to pay the 3 mon fine. Legend has it that “早起きは三文の得” (hayaoki ha 3-mon no toku which literally means those who rise early get 3-mon or the early bird catches the worm) came from this.
Now, I’ll talk a bit about Kobe. Kobe is a sophisticated and beautiful town, famous for its shoe industry. Therefore, this town is called “Hakidaore no machi”. Kobe used to also be known for its port tower. That tower has many stores and activities you can participate in. For example, when night falls the place becomes a romantic, illuminated place.
There is another romantic spot in Kobe called “Akashi Big Bridge” that also lights up at night.
In my next post, I’ll mention some other facts about Kobe and surveniors as well as Osaka! Please check it out. (^▽^)/
そんな東大寺ですが戦や自然災害により損壊を繰り返し、その度修復され今現在の姿で祀られています。そんな折、目の修復をしなくてはいけなくなった大仏様ですが、みんなどうやって内側から目をはめたらよいのかと頭を悩ましていた時、一人の男が名乗りを上げました。その男は大仏様の目から体内に入り、内側から目を付けました。その後みんなどうやってその男が大仏様の体内から出てくるのか見守っていると、その男は大仏様の鼻の穴から出てきました。そうして「目から鼻に抜けた賢い男だ」と称賛を浴び「目から鼻に抜ける」＝賢いという意味になりました。英語では”as sharp as a needle”が意味の近い表現になります。
また、鹿関連の被害はそれだけでなく他の庶民にも及びました。もし家の前で鹿が偶然死んでいたら、罰金としてその家は３文を払わなくてはいけませんでした。そのため家の人は朝早く起きて家の外に鹿が死んでいないか確認し、もし死んでいたら隣の家に引きずって置いたそうです。そしてその隣の家も家の前で見つけたら隣の家に、という形で最後に見つかった家は罰金として三文を役人に払わなくてはいけなかったそうです。ここから「早起きは三文の得」ということわざが生まれたという逸話が残っています。ちなみに英語でも同じ意味のことわざがあり、”The early bird gets the worm.”です。