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Wanderings and Misadventures of The Toes Ramblings of a fledgling traveler...

Just a Quick One

JAPAN | Friday, 5 March 2010 | Views [563] | Comments [2]

I'm sick of being on this computer so I'll make it quick.

I visited Osaka castle. It's pretty neat on the outside and fun to explore the grounds. You can climb the battlements but the stairs are pretty freaky. Lots of steep steps and no handrails. The interior is kinda crappy though. I could have skipped it and saved some yen. It was rebuilt not long ago and made into a museum. Most info is lost on you if you can't read Japanese.


After that I wandered around the shopping areas. The underground malls and department stores were swarming with people. I had to duck into a little bakery for a while to get my bearings. I think it will be nice to get into the mountains of Shikoku for some quiet time.


While out I picked up a birthday gift for little Sophie (I'll be sending it out today guys). I also sent my first postcard without any issues. Every time I do something new I get nervous. "What if they don't understand me?!"


That night I searched for Otombori Street on foot. It's a big flashy shopping district in Osaka. Finally I find a grocery store and it's too awkward to pick up some things.Poop. Anyhow, it took some time to find the street. I picked up some grape juice... or I thought I did. It was sorta chunky. Turns out it was a type of Jell-o in a bottle. Once I realized that the chunks were intentional I actually enjoyed it. I've been looking for it in vending machines since.

So I`m enjoying my not-so-liquid beverage, searching for the street and I stumble upon a Christmas themed store. Smiling santas everywhere; okay. Yup, this was the love hotel district. Look it up if you don't know what a love hotel is.

Long story not-so-long, I found the street, oohed and ahhed at the flashy lights and giant mechanical crabs then crawled home to bed. It would be a fun spot to party with friends.

Yesterday was a daytrip to Nara. So far that has been my favorite place though I can really only compare it to Osaka. The city is swarming with deer. They watch you with glassy eyes waiting for a handout. That reminded me a bit of Vancouver and the street people.

Nara is a city littered with temples and shrines. So many that they don't all show on the map. The park is pretty nice too and the temples there are incredible. I decided to take a hike up one of the hills. I had no idea where i was going since all signage beyond the city is written in Japanese.

After winding up and up and up the hill for about an hour the curves all started to look alike. The only difference being that the valley bellow was getting farther. Eventually I saw the city skyline; I was pretty high up.

Part way up I stumbled upon an area with buildings dotting the hillside (in a bit of a valley). At first I inched in cautiously but soon it was obviously deserted. I climbed up the many stairs to the top of the hill, the peak. There was a shrine so I splashed around in the little pool with the ladle. I don't know if that would have been insulting to the gods. Good thing I was alone.

I was so alone I almost expected to see little forest spirits clicking their heads at me. No such luck but it was a pretty neat place.


After continuing up the hill for a while longer I decided to head back down. It would get dark soon. Too bad, every corner had been urging me on due to curiosity. Once down the hill my feet were screaming but I was satisfied.


It seems I visited at the right time. That night they were celebrating the coming of spring. Huge torches are lit and carried up to the balcony of a temple. The monks pray and the torch bearers wave the torches and run along the railings. As they do that sparks and ash rain down on the viewers in a sort of cleansing ceremony. I was covered in ash.

A local photographer introduced himself and we spent the night chatting and watching the show. When it was over the crowed was so huge it reminded me of the Canada Day fireworks in Ottawa. My buddy Tatsuhiro showed me around the temple then escorted me to my train. He's a part time tour guide and was happy to show me the sights on the way.

After a free "sweet ginger" drink, basically warm liquid candy, we hopped on the train, exchanged emails and went on our separate ways. That was a hell of a day. There's still so much to see in Nara, I hope I can go back sometime.

Tomorrow I head to Shikoku and the start of the 88 temple pilgrimage. I have to continue my preparations and try some of the local specialties so I'll end this here. I could go on.

I thought this was grape juice. It was Jello.

I thought this was grape juice. It was Jello.

Comments

1

Sounds like you've been very busy!

Nara sounds pretty relaxed - sounds like a place I could unplug in. Don't tell Sonia or she'll start planing ;-)

I especially like the analagy between Nara Deer and Vancouver Homeless ... I wonder ... annual bum hunt? Nononononononono ... Bum hunt ... Hahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Anyway, all three of us have your cold ... so it's like you're still here with us. Don't worry I am saving a used kleenex in a jar in the back of the freezer for when you get back ;-)

We miss you - have fun!

Marco

  Marco Mar 7, 2010 12:17 AM

2

LMFAO! I am enjoying your blogs! But getting more envious with each post...I am gonna have to do something about that.

  Jen (aka. the Vancouver bum) Mar 14, 2010 5:10 PM

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