But first, Mt Koya. This is a mountain on the Hanto peninsula which is the HQ for a form of esoteric buddhism. It is full of temple lodges (basically monasteries where you can sleep over and get a veggo brekky and dinner). It is about 900m above sea level (so fecking freezing) but very picturesque. There is a big pagoda and several other nice temples to look at there. We were up early in the morning for a Buddhist ceremony which was a lot of monotonal chanting that I did not understand. I was a bit grumpy and down on mojo after that; probably due to the cold and lack of caffeine in my system, and a Japanese style breakfast (I am not a great fan of Tofu).
I went out for a run this morning, with the deer in Nara park. They are super tame little critters. They even give you a nudge (head vs butt equals headbutt) when they want a deer cracker.
Then we went out to see some of the temples and a sublime Japanese garden, bursting with autumnal crimson. We saw the big buddha at todai- ji, the biggest buddha I have ever seen, in fact.
At Todai-ji, there is a pillar with a hole in the bottom of it, apparently it corresponds with the size of the buddhas nostril. It is about 1 foot square. If you can squeeze through it, you have eternal enlightenment.
Kiddies do well with this, and so do more slender adults. Anyone more corpulent (or hippier) is denied enlightenment. Humph. I did not even try for fear of getting stuck.
Ian fed a deer and it kept headbutting him for more. He refused, citing the theory of operant conditioning (ie need to deny deer snacks to discourage bad behaviour). Deer psychiatry.
We then went to see the burial mounds where apparently dead emperors are buried. Just a big hill with a few trees and weeds. A memorial which we could not read.
I went for a wander about. I saw a few things that I did not buy (saving cash, see below). I saw some cool stuff like a vintage kimono store, and a Japanese fabric store, and a 105 yen shop (inflationary pressures). We had okonomiyaki for lunch, with a lime drink which made me dizzy (alas, it had alcohol in it).
We are staying in a Ryokan called Tsubaki-so (tsubaki means camellia). It is recommended by the Lonely planet. It is indeed very homely, and the owner makes a fuss of you and brings you sweeties and green tea. She has a miniature geriatric (13 year old) dog who makes funny wheezy barking noises but is very sweet.
I then saw a few Japanese running stores; bear in mind that Asics, Mizuno and possibly New Balance are Japanese brands. Good prices (AUD 180 for a pair of the latest Kayano, 150 for 2160s) but alas not a pair to fit me. Will have to save the cashola for other things *
We were going to see the museum tomorrow, there was a humungous queue there, probably about a 2 hour wait (tip: never go to Nara on a Sunday). We will go there first thing tomorrow morning. Then off to Kyoto for a two days, then back to Tokyo for a night to do some drunken caterwauling with Kathryn. Then to Hong Kong, to partake of my favourite activities: shopping and eating.
* stuff I would like to buy in HK and or the UK:
- A garmin watch – cannot find any here in Japan.
- Stuff from H&M/Zara/Other cool places they dont have in Oz.
- Possibly an uber expensive handbag.
- Maybe some Christmas presents, but not much room in the Backpack so may have to do the shopping in Melbs.