Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Kyoto / Nara

Well I didn't get allowed on the computer yesterday so I am blogging at 7 in the morning while everyone else is waking up. We have free fast Japanese internet in this hotel, so the boys spent the evening adding photos to their blogs because it didn't take very long to upload each photo.
Yesterday was our 2nd of 2 guided days. Luc found a company called Japan by locals or something like that. We pay one person to take us around for a day. It was great in Tokyo and so today was Kyoto/Nara. She was late which is very unusual for Japan and the day didn't start well. She seemed to dither a lot and it took us 30mins to get to the train we needed. By the way, Thomas (my nephew) would be in heaven here. We catch at least 10 trains a day and the system is organised, but complex so you have to work out which train line you need to be on when.
The day got better once we were headed for Nara, which was about 45mins on the semi-rapid train. We then had to catch a bus to the temple. The deer here are sacred and overfed. They are everywhere waiting in lines at the deer-food vendors and ready to pounce on anyone who buys them biscuits. The temple holds the 20m high Buddah. It is cast in iron and very impressive. The grounds were well laid out and everything was big. It was interesting having our own guide there as she told us everything we needed to know about everything, from the deer antler cutting ceremony to the construction and reconstructions of the temple.
We also walked to see a shrine where the lanes were lined with 2000 stone lanterns.
Then we caught a train to see another shrine. But the highlight of the day was the last stop. We got off the train and walked up a hill for about 20mins through a buddist cemetery. 200000 families have their burial sites. (Everyone gets cremated). You are supposed to visit your site 4 times a year and if you don't visit for a certain amount of time, the site gets reclaimed. This is shown by tags hanging around the little obelisk that is on the site.
There was a shrine at the top, the most active shrine in Japan. Then we wandered down the hill via another route. This was great. apart from soft serve black sesame ice-cream, we went through little alleys and saw really interesting, traditional buildings and gardens. This made the day. This landed us back in a part of Kyoto we knew and we caught the bus home, just as the rain started.
A bit later on we went for a dinner forage and found another vending machine restaurant where everyone found something they liked so we came home full and tired.
Now our traditional rice/fish breakfast has just arrived. Not sure how that will go, we have bread and ham in the fridge for Ryan to survive on.

1 comment:

betbeders said...

- from luc

The group is called Toursbylocals.com it is not only for Japan.

We can recommend Toyoko U in Kyoto and Chie in Tokyo. On the website you hire a specific person not just a tour. And that person takes you where you want to go or makes up a suggested list for you.

Given we have not been here before this introduction to an area really works. You can spend the whole day asking the guide questions and so today we used a lot of the information we learnt from our guide yesterday. You also save a lot of time because you dont have to keep looking things up ;) especially which train line to take.