There are two things about Nara, a small city in Japan just east of Osaka, that everybody knows:
One is that it is home to Tōdai-ji, a 2,000-year-old temple whose central icon is the biggest slab o’ bronze this side of the Mississippi. You can get a globe later and ponder which side of the Mississippi river Japan is on. For now, imagine a 50-foot solid bronze Buddha surrounded by guardians and bodhisattvas, smiling languidly at a mob of loud tourists taking flash photos. I’ll admit that I accidentally took one flash photo.