Natalie Goes to Japan

40 year old very married blonde woman having a midlife crisis who heads to Japan alone to follow her dreams. Be careful what you wish for ... you just may get it.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Spur of the Moment

On Sunday I decided it was time to go visit Nara. So Monday I hopped on the Shinkansen and was there by 9:30 a.m. Have I mentioned how much I love the Shinkansen. I do, I do. So I got off the train, stopped at the Tourist Information booth, picked up a map and started wandering. First stop brunch, at a really cute cafe with an open front. Next stop the famous pagoda at Kofuku-ji. Pagodas don't do much for me, and this one was exceptionally uninspiring because of all of the construction going on around it. But there were a few nice niches around the temple where a girl could take a few pictures. Then I followed the general crowds out and about. I ended up at the most famous site in Nara, Todai Temple with the world's largest bronze Buddha inside the world's largest wooden structure. The Buddha isn't particularly old, and the head has fallen off and was destroyed a couple of times during earthquakes and such, so his head doesn't really match his body. He's still quite spectacular. But I couldn't help but compare him to the Great Buddha at Kamakura, which is outside, and the weathering, the light and the backdrop of gentle hills is just wonderful. Then more wandering. I happened upon the Nigatsu and Sangatsu (February and March) Halls. Nigatsu had a lovely view and was nestled against the hills. Sangatsu was filled with lion statues. Then it was time for I had ice cream. I'm not very good about eating well on my trips. The next place I wanted to go was a bit of a hike, so I enjoyed the stroll. And took lots of pictures of the semi-tame deer that wander the park. And watched the children and young women scream when a deer took a deer-cookie out of their hands. Eventually I arrived at Kasuga. They are a Shinto Shrine famous for the thousands of lanterns located on the premises. Twice a year they light them all. It must be amazing. It was pretty amazing without them being lit. Well, after a brief sit-down in the park I hailed a taxi and had them take me to the Nara Youth Hostel. The hostel was really clean, if a little institutional. A short nap later I headed downtown again. I wandered the cute streets until I found a place to have dinner, where I sat, ate, read and had a couple of cocktails. I was so pooped and relaxed afterwards I had no choice but to return to the hostel and crash, so I could be ready for the next days adventure.


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