Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Nara and Fushimi

On Monday Jimmy guided 5 of to Nara and Fushima, both towns being accessible by train. Robin didn't go along because she wasn't feeling well and wanted to spend the day resting in the room instead of climbing temple stairs and shrine steps, so she could join Jimmy, Elizabeth, and me for dinner before Jimmy caught a train back to his home town on Yonago in the Totorri prefecture.

But first, a couple of random photos that got left out of the last posting (apologies for the haze effect — I didn't realize there was a smudge on the camera lens):

Another photo of the small side street bar that has a seating capacity of four.

As Jimmy walked us from the subway stop to our hotel, he pointed out a "love hotel." This was the only signage to identify it. The sign was next to a car entrance. When you pull in and park a curtain drops to hide your car and license plate. You get a room and pay for it by pushing buttons on a vending machine. You never have face-to-face contact with another person. Two convenient rates available: "Stay" for 6,200 yen, or "Rest" for 3,200 yen. If someone is expecting you home in time for dinner, or if you need to get back to the office, you should choose the "Rest" option.

Before Jimmy caught his bus back to Yonago, he went us to the Kyoto station and helped us buy the bus tickets to Yonago that we'll need tomorrow (Thursday here). He also made sure we knew where to catch our bus. In the station (above), if you don't want to use the escalator you have the option of using the stairs. Robin took the stairs. You can see how popular they are, especially going up. The escalator was crowded, but not as tiring.


The Nara temple complex is huge, and it's about a 30 minute uphill walk from the Nara train station. Once you get there you're greeted by deer who expect cookie treats that vendors sell (150 yen for a pack of 5 or 6 cookies). Elizabeth was popular here.

Jimmy and Nara deer. At one point Jimmy bowed to a deer, Japanese style, and the deer bowed back.

Elizabeth offers cookies to deer who seem bored with the same old cookie thing.

Yeah, deer. If you have cookies in your pocket or bag, they'll try to snatch it from you.

This is a street of food vendors that stretches from the Nara temple park to downtown Nara. It didn't seem crowed in the park itself because it's so large, but when the crowd narrows down to one small street it got a lot cozier.

This temple is the largest wooden building in Japan, which is saying a lot. It houses the largest wooden Buddha in Japan. It's 850 years old or something like that. It is awesome. You can tell it's a Buddhist temple instead of a Shinto shrine because it's not orange.

After washing his hands in a special trough, Jimmy finishes cleansing himself with incense before he enters the temple.

A view of the wooden Buddha inside.


In Yashimi, the main attraction is a path going up the mountain made of hundreds, maybe thousands, of Shinto gates. Shinto gates and Shinto shrines are always orange. There's probably a Shinto branding manual that specifies the exact PMS (Pantone Matching System) orange color, but I don't know what it is. 

Jimmy, our guide for the day, gives the universal tourist guide hand signal for "you have two minutes to go to the toilet before we leave to catch the train."

Following kimonos through the seemingly endless Shinto gates.