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04 January 2012 @ 05:16 pm
04.01.2012 - Nara: Yakushiji & Toshodaiji  

Hello, everybody! ^^

Here's today's report. Today I really did a lot. :D Well, my night was relatively short. It seems that those last 2 hours I had were yet too much. My night was over at around 3 am. ^^" At about 7 am I got up and prepared to leave for Nara. The good news, the weather was good. The bad news, the post office would only open at 9 am - and I really needed some cash. ^^"

I was lucky, the ONLY store that was already open was the Starbucks Coffee, so I got in there and had breakfast. Time went by pretty quickly and a few minutes before 9 am I had found the post office all on my own. Well, I had asked at the counter where I could find one and the lady there marked it for me on my map. Maps are still a very peculiar thing to me, but I found the post office alright. Once I was set with fresh money, a very positive kind of series began. I made a row of good decisions today. I'll reveal them as I report.

My first good decision was to get back to the hotel to change from "sweater rather than pullover, because that'll keep me warmer" to "sweater AND pullover", because it's really cold. as I left for the metro station I had no less than 5 layers on me under my jacket. That was a VERY good decision, since once I was at Nara, it was e3ven colder, plus there was a MAD wind outside. Really, totally mad. The small stalls on the street even had to pack up their things, because nothing would stay in place. @_@ Had I not gotten wrapped up like that, I would have frozen - or (almost equally bad) travelled back without really seeing anything on significance.

My second good decision was to wear my support stocking. It made me feel better while walking and when I tripped, it wasn't nearly as bad as the last time. So, I was really happy about that.

My third good decision was to buy myself a cap while I was waiting for my train. It kept me warm when there was that mad wind outside.

On my way to Nara, I sat on the JR train next to an elderly lady, who at a certain point let me know that part of my jacket was on the floor. She kept talking to me, and I was like @_@ she then asked, if I understood any Japanese and I just said no, apologizing. You know, the word that helps you everywhere: "Sumimasen". ^^ She then said that it was okay, if you could say three things in Japanese: A sort of greeting, thank you, and... well, "Sumimasen". That was really nice. Of course, I couldn't really talk to her, while we were travelling, but as she got off the train, she said that she was going to visit her family and I answered that it was nice to get to do that. She smiled and said "See, you do understand, after all.". That made me really happy. ^^ I then wished her a safe journey. That was my very first somewhat Japanese conversation ever. ^^

[short interlude: It seems that Daigo-san is getting quite a lot of TV time lately. There he is again. In a suit that looks like he stole it from a set that was meant for Koichi shooting pics. Kakkoi!!!!! *__*]

Once in Nara I already knew my first steps. I went a slightly different road from my last stay, though, coming by a small lake that looked really nice. Since I had to get to Kokufuji anyway, I decided to pay Nara park just a very short visit. Oh, it's really so beautiful there. Good thing I had my travel guide and had at least some idea where I had to go for what I wanted to do.

Small store at the pond near Kokufuji

Kokufuji main building

My fourth good decision was to go from Nara park straight to Kintetsu Nara station and drive right through to Nishinokyo station. I had originally planned to see Heijo palace first, because it was somewhere along the way, but then I decided to go for Yakushiji first, that was the one thing I really wanted to see, after all. Later I didn't have the time to get back to Heijo, but that's okay. Something left there to come back to see. ^^ Even though I had started my journey very early I had still arrived in Nara no earlier than 11 am. So, once I got to Kintetsu station it was already past noon.

Nara is really a tourist hot spot. I haven't seen so many western looking people in the entirety of Japan since I've arrived, let alone at one spot. XD That, however, is totally reserved for central Nara. As I got to Kintetsu station, no western tourists where anywhere near and, what made travelling really difficult was the fact that the Kintetsu Lines didn't have maps in Romaji. So I knew which lines I wanted to take, but I had no idea, which ones they were on the schedule. Thus, I always had to ask on which  platform to get onto the next train - or whether I had to change trains at all - the general maps showed ALL the destinations you could reach, no matter how often you'll have to change (among the Kintetsu lines). @_@ I was totally confused. It's a miracle, I found the right station at all. Finally, I arrived at Nishinokyo, which, btw, ready like "the east of the west" which I find very sweet. ^^

Sure enough, just as my guide said, as soon as I got out of the train I could already see one of the Pagoda of Yakushiji. I was so happy to get to see this temple. it seems that for some reason it's mainly unknown by the majority of tourists. Pity, they're really missing out. Why on earth do I know this place? Well, fans of KinKi Kids and/or Tsuyoshi will know that he once held a big live there. I loved the site and checked on the net, that's where I learned that Yakushiji is actually one of THE most essential spots for Japanese Buddhism. I have to say I enjoyed this much more than the visit at Todaiji. Might be due to the fact that the place wasn't totally over-run by tourists. It's really a very calm spot. And I got lucky, because the "Genjo Sanzo" district, which is closed half of the year was open today, so I got to see that too, including a hall that showed the most amazing journey of the famous monk to India where he retrieved some sacred scripts. It was really special. Yakushiji is one of a kind altogether. While it's nowhere near as big as Todaiji, it was a very majestic kind of air to it. I was really so glad that I went to see this temple. I was the only western visitor there. ^^ Everybody was very nice to me, though.

Yakushiji main entrance

Genjo Sanzo Den entrance area

Yakushiji main hall

Pagoda (I think it's the West Pagoda, East Pagoda is sadly under construction until 2019!!!)

Back of the side hall

After finishing my tour of the grounds of Yakushiji (and spending loads of money on an English guide, charms and a wooden plate to wish for safety and well-being of friends and family) I wanted to move on to Toshodaiji. That proved to be a bit difficult. Really, nobody who is not from that area could have read that sign. So I went into a shop to ask for directions. I made my way into the direction I'd been told and kept going. I knew it was a longer walk. Then, however, I could see the road coming to an end and I hadn't reached the temple yet. So I went back a few steps into a small shop/restaurant to ask again. They confirmed that I have to move on into the according direction, so I kept going and once I hit the end of the road, right on my right hadn side there was the entrance to Toshodaiji. This temple was very different to Yakushiji. For one, it's more like a park that you can stroll. It's really big. I didn't expect that. Yet, I explored almost all of the area, the biggest charms of which are the forested plains around the temple buildings. It was definitely worth seeing.

Toshodaiji main hall


Path through what looks like a small Zen Garden

View over the temple area

Once I had finished my tour there, I decided to get back and held at the shop/restaurant again. I was a bit worried abotu getting in. The outskirts of Nara are really VERY rural. Small traditional houses standing in impossible angles together, small Shrines and Temples everywhere in between. A beautiful picture. it looked, though, as though western people were a very exotic thing and that nobody would be speaking English. However, as I checked the menu, I found the two dishes I could read on ANY menu presented to me: "Soba" and "Udon". I figured if they had Udon, they must have "Kare-Udon" too - and they did. I could order that. ^^ I also had two cups of Ocha. It was really incredibly cold outside and I was happy to be able to get out of the wind for just a bit. Once I had finished my meal, it was already past 3 pm. Heijo closed at 4 pm, so there was no point in going there anymore. Plus, I was feeling very tired and I had covered quite a lot. Thus, I decided to get back to Kyoto.

My fifth good decision was to decide to go back to Kyoto by Kintetsu Lines. the JR line would have been free of charge, but that would have meant a rather big detour and since I had to buy the ticket back to Nara anyway I decided to just stay on that train. A good thing too. As we drove by the other stations, I saw that the storm outside had changed into a snow storm. I wouldn't have wanted to be out there for money. >_< It was cold enough in the train. I was really happy once we had gotten to the station where I could change to the subway. Finally it got a bit warmer again. ^^

Once back in Kyoto I went back to my hotel to store everything I had bought before going out again to do some shopping. I bought a little present. I don't want to take everything away, but I think it's okay to tell this story. The lady in the shop looked at what I wanted and went "Ah, Hyde-san. He's cute isn't he? My mother, you know, she totally isn't into that kind of thing. She doesn't know anything. But she saw  Hyde and went to buy his latest Cd.". XDDDDDD That was really good fun. Sadly I didn't get lucky with DVDs of ABC or Breakerz, so that will have to wait until I get back to Tokyo. Next I stopped at the Lipton Coffee/Tea house, had a hot chocolate (where they don't really mean "hot", but boy, they DO mean "chocolate" *__* ) and some fruit mouse. That was really delicious.

Next I went to the chop stick store to get something for myself and my mother - as I've promised. ^^ Afterwards just a very quick stop at the "Family Mart" for Kare-Pan (I just keep eating Curry as I go XDDD ) and some water and then I went back to the hotel. the room was still too cold to take a shower immediately, so I lay down a bit - and woke up two hours later. ^^ Took that shower and then went to updating. I'll try to include pics, although it's a bit difficult with the netbook - it doesn't show the sub-windows right, so it's difficult to pick out stuff.

Well, as it is, that's my report of today. Tomorrow I want to visit the Eastern and Southern region of Kyoto. Stay tuned for that.

Good night, everybody! <3
Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: Love you only (TOKIO)
jellybean6972: Arashi Rainbowjellybean6972 on January 5th, 2012 08:23 pm (UTC)
It's so good to hear about how the people you encountered were nice to you.

Everything looks so beautiful~ It's nice that you had such a nice day :D
Hikaru: Tsuyoshi deer chuuyoru_no_hikaru on January 6th, 2012 09:16 am (UTC)
I enjoyed Yakushiji especially. It's just... special. It's a beautiful temple, really.

I was really surprised, nobody was in the slightest preoccupied by my persence. In such an area, I would have expected to have more trouble, to be honest. But no such thing. ^^ I want to come back again and visit Heijo palace too. ^^