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  • Writer's pictureAkiko Murakami

Lanterns at Kasuga Grand Shrine (2)

Stone lanterns with deer at Kasuga taisha Shrine

There are about 2,000 stone lanterns both sides of the approach to the main Shrine. Many of them are covered with moss, showing how old they are.

In the 17th century (Edo period), it became a custom to keep burning the lanterns all night, and the donation of lanterns became very popular among the people. This custom lasted until 1868 (Meiji restoration).

After Meiji period, many things has changed in Nara.

Nara was used to be called "Yamato-han" during the Edo period, but it became "Nara prefecture". And...the number of famous deer decreased to as low as 38! ! Today, the number is usually kept as high as 1,200 and even more. What happened to the deer and the why there are so many deer in Nara in the first place is another topic to write..

Numerous wild wisterias are grown in many places in the shrine complex.

If you look for carefully, you will find a unique views like this....

The wisteria tree is freely growing and pushing away the top stone of the lantern! Such power of nature! I wonder how long did it take to get this far.

Today, the entire complex of Kasuga Taisha Shrine is about 250 acres (or 100 ha), but it once was 10 times larger. Its extensive forests and mountains are considered sacred and access, cutting down the trees or hunting there have been strictly forbidden officially since 841.

That is why the wisteria can grow freely without being cut like in the picture.

In 1998, Mt. Kasuga has registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site "Kasuga-yama Primeval Forest ". Many unique kinds of insects and animals are living in the forest.

It is nice to walk around the compound in the early morning when not so many people are around. You can feel the seasonal beauty in the air!


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