Friday, 18 April 2008

Day 9 Part 1 - Nara (奈良) Okumura Museum (奥村記念館)

Today we visited the ancient capital of Nara (奈良) - nowadays it is primarily known for it's Buddhist temples (including one that displays a gigantic statue of the Buddha, even bigger than the one in Kamakura) and deers (yes, cousins of Bambi) that roam freely around the city, though most of them cluster around Nara Park.

We took the JR train from Osaka to Nara. This is the JR Nara train station - a nice but rather bland building:

It was another rainy day, so the roads are quite wet. This is the Nara Centennial Hall next to the station, along with some large tourist signs:

I decided right there that I like Nara, because they made it very easy for tourists to find their way around the city, with large signs everywhere in both Japanese and English (smart move, given that I suspect most of their economy is tourism-derived). For example, we had no problems locating the bus stop for the sight-seeing route that will take us to Nara park:

We stopped in the middle of Nara Park, and this is our first glimpse of the avenue leading to the Todaiji Temple (東大寺) where the Great Buddha statue is located.

Since it was still quite early, and the tourist information centre hasn't opened yet, we walked the street and stumbled upon an interesting museum which was open. It's called the "Okumura Memorial Museum" (奥村記念館) - apparently the Okumura Corporation designs earthquake & seismic isolation systems for buildings.

This is presumably a statue of their founder - Okumura Tahei:

The main feature of the museum was a device that allows the visitor to experience what an earthquake feels like:

The company designs systems that allow a building to be isolated from and withstand the effects of earthquakes:

And downstairs in the basement of the building, we can actually see the devices installed in the museum building itself:

The museum also had a really nice garden at the back - overall I like the architecture of this building:

From the rooftop terrace we can see an overview of Nara Park:

Next door to the museum was a newly opened shop, with flowers outside:

We also saw some primary schoolchildren on an excursion:

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