The Deer Park

Next to the Daibutsu, Nara immediately calls up the Arcadian picture of its deer park, so serene and restful. It is somewhat Western in outward appearance, with a thousand tame deer sauntering through its beautiful stretch of woodland. It is perhaps the best constructed park (covering some 1,250 acres) in Japan, a perfect embodiment of Western and Japanese ideas of what a public park should be. Its tree-bordered walks and avenues, its clear, rippling ponds, reflecting the dreamy shadows of an ancient pagoda, its weeping willows, and in spring its profusion of cherry trees, can hardly be described, even in pictures. At every step you take, you are, as it were, passing through history. All the objects around you are presented as if in a great album of pictures illustrating the Nara period at the height of its glory, when the aristocrats of the court seemed to have no more onerous duty than that of holding poetry competitions or flower-viewing ceremonies, and the ladies, in full enjoyment of social freedom, gave their days and nights to the writing of poetry and dreams of love. As quoted by Professor Clement, the beauty of the Nara epoch was described by a poet in the following lines:

"Nara, the Imperial Capital,
Blooms with prosperity,
Even as the blossom blooms
With rich color and sweet fragrance."

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