Photos from Yakushima

27 04 2013

Day 2 in Nara

10 08 2009

Lazy day around Nara- we needed some downtime after all the hectic travel. We slept in, had breakfast then lunch then finally went out to wander around Nara again. We went for a walk to a World Heritage Buddhist Temple near our hostel, Gango-ji. There wasn’t much English explanation of all the artworks and statues, but they did tell us that the red roof tiles were very old. Then we decided to go to the Nara museum (but it was closed). So we wandered further to a lake with a gazebo in Nara Park (and said hello to the cardboard eating deer) and then wandered along a shopping street with kimono, yukata, sweets and souvenir stores. We went for a night walk to try to find some lanterns lit as part of the Nara summer lantern festival but none were lit because it was raining in the afternoon. The 5 story pagoda was lit up at night and it looked quite good.

Nara- home of the daibutsu and deer

9 08 2009

We took the train to Nara from Kyoto, checked into the Nara-Tree Guesthouse in Naramichi historical district then had lunch at Ashura, an organic vegan-friendly place that served curry, samosas and fried croquettes with carrot juice.
Filled with fuel, we set off on a walking tour of Nara. We walked through a crafty shopping district, past the Sarusawa-like pond with turtles and koi to Kofukuji Temple and the 5 story pagoda. Then we continued past the cracker-eating deer to Todaiji Temple with the Daibutsu. It’s quite dark inside the wooden building so it’s actually almost impossible to get a photo of the giant Buddha. Benno managed to squeeze through the hole the size of the Buddha’s Nostril, again (he did it 14 years ago and is the same size now!). Then we headed up the hill to a giant bell, the Nigatsu Hall with lovely views of Nara, past Hokke-do down through the Kasugayama Primeval Forest to Kasuga Taisha Shrine which is another UNESCO site. Kasuga Taisha Shrine had moss covered stone lanterns lining the path and two men were practicing playing taiko drums while we wandered along the paths.

We ate peach flavoured shaved ice (kaki kori) and mogwort toasted mochi on the way then had sweet potato fries from a stand on the way home. We ate dinner and watched “Tokyo Godfathers”, a Japanese anime movie at the guesthouse. We would not recommend Nara-Tree guesthouse to anyone as it was really poorly run and not kept very clean. But there was air-conditioning in our bedroom at least.

Miyajima & the Hiroshima Bombing Anniversary

6 08 2009

Today was the annversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. We attended the Ceremony at 8am in Peace park where prayers were said and a bell was tolled at 8.15am, the exact time the bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945. The Japanese Prime Minister Aso, the Hiroshima governor and 2 UN Representatives spoke at the ceremony. Doves were released and a new scroll with updated names of all that died in the blast was placed in the memorial.

After the ceremony we caught the streetcar to Miyajima station (60minutes), then ran to catch the ferry to the island (10minutes). We walked past many deer, one ate part of our map (yum, paper), then we walked through Itsukushima shrine and took photos of the O-torii out in the sea at high tide (10.30am). There were lots of little crabs in the mud flats around the temple walkways. We hiked up Mt Misen which is about 580m above sea level. It was stairs the whole way and it was soooo tiring, sweaty, humid and hot. It took about 90 minutes to hike the whole way up to the peak. We couldn’t be bothered walking all the way down again so we took the cable car ropeway down the mountain. Around the cable car station were monkeys and deer. There were baby monkeys and mother monkeys, grooming monkeys and even monkeys grooming the deer. The descent on the cable car was steep, then we walked through the ‘Maple Park’ where a deer was eating a newspaper.

We wandered down Omotesando shopping street and saw the World’s Largest Rice Spoon which was 7.7m long.

Then we caught the ferry and tram back to the A-bomb dome. We wandered past some other monuments including the A-bomb mound (that contains the ashes of 70,000 people) back to the museum so Benno could buy a t-shirt and the Japanese book Shanti (about the girl who made 1000 paper cranes when she was dying at age 10 from atomic-radiation induced lukemia). We bought pink paper for a lantern for 600Y then made dinner back at the hostel.

We returned at night to the Peace park to put our lantern (with our wishes for peace written on it) in the water. We had to line up for about 1/2 hour or more as heaps of people had lantern wishes. Luckily we brought snacks of sugar-coated potato to eat while we waited.

After the festival we ate red bean and chesnut sweets from Takayama with iced tea then had cold showers to wash off all the sweat from our Mt Misen hike.