… well, not an actual buddah, but a hole in a wooden column the same size as a buddah’s nostril. But more on that later.
A break with the usual today… I am not watching World Cup right now. I am taking a breather before going out to wander Kyoto some more tonight, after spending the day in Nara, and then spending the last hour in a public bath house. Yes, I got naked in front of old Japanese men. I will get to that but spare you details.
So Nara. Just when you think things can’t get better along comes the next day. And while Himeji Castle will take some beating, Todaiji Temple in Nara comes close.
The main part of my day was wandering the typical touristy path through the main sites of Nara. Lush parks, more temples and shrines, and deer. Lots of deer. Not afraid to sniff your pockets and chew on anything you might have. Locals sell deer biscuits but it is more fun to watch those people who buy them get mobbed by a dozen deer that get the whiff of the biscuits. While the signs tell you to be careful, I can’t imagine any of these deer would cause a fuss. They are cool though.
The walk in parts was lined by hundreds of concrete lanterns that get lit each night. I can’t imagine how cool that must be.
One of the awe inspiring sites was Nigatsu-do Hall, located on a hill overlooking Nara.
But really, it is just a teaser for arriving here…
And I thought Himeji Castle was a big wooden structure. Holy crap, this was huge! The small people entering the base of the temple gives you an indication how big I am talking. Oh, and thanks to the lovely couple from Sydney for taking this snap.
Approaching Todaiji is pretty amazing. You are dwarfed by it as you walk up, and I am not sure I could stop smiling. Reaching the entrance you are greeted by this big dude…
Daibutsu, Japan’s largest bronze buddah says hi as you walk in, and he’s pretty freakin’ big. Big Banana? Lame. Big Pineapple? Yawn. Big bronze Buddah? Awesome.
So, we come to the nostril. In the temple is a hole in a wooden beam that is supposedly the size of Daibutsu’s nostril. Apparently those who can squeeze through the opening will be granted enlightenment in their next reincarnation. It is mainly a thing for kids given the size, but yes. You know what is coming. I had to give it a go, much to the amusement of kids in line. This picture gives a bit more perspective on the size…
So my time came. The tough part was that it was more narrow than tall which made negotiating it quite difficult. I decided to lead with both arms stretched out, but made it difficult to pull myself through. Oh no, I thought, I won’t fit. But then I got my body at the right angle, found something to grab and slid my way though. Not particularly elegantly, but through. I am to be enlightened!
The highlight though was the applause I got from the kids. I gotta say that was very funny and very cool.
So I was done and wandered back to the train station. But then I spied it. Is that… a… Mos Burger? Glen, if you are reading this right now, you will be glad to know that I could not pass it up. So, knowing that there was an actual “mos burger” on the menu, that is what I asked for. And here you go.
I don’t really know what was on it, but it was pretty tasty. I was maybe a touch underwhelmed as several people had told me to seek out Mos Burger. But in many ways I think I would rather settle for a bowl of ramen. And sorry Glen, I couldn’t find any coasters?
My only bummer in Nara today was coming across a big tourist group… from Melbourne. A bunch of dudes from a Melbourne private school were being what you would expect a bunch of 16 year old guys in a foreign country to be like. I spoke to a couple of the teachers and they seemed cool. And maybe it was more the contrast between boisterous tourist and respectful locals that made them appear so annoying. But for me it makes you check that your manners are the equal of your hosts.
Anyway, getting back to the hostel I decided that tonight would be a good night for a stroll back in Gion. So what to do? Well, the time had come to try public bathing. Unfortunately no Onsen’s nearby (hot springs) just regular Sento’s (public baths with super hot water). But it was just across the street, and I was physically tired, so in I went. I can’t say my etiquette was all that good… not deliberately… I just didn’t quite have the method right. But I gotta say once I popped the clothes away, washed up, then jumped in, I was pretty relaxed. Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, relaxed.
What helped I think was that before I went in I had one of these…
The hot water and this made my brain slow right down to a halt. I just gave in and next thing I knew I had been in there like 45 minutes. The bath only had a couple of old dudes in it, so it wasn’t particularly intimidating… in fact it gave me the urge to seek out a real onsen when I can.
And this is where I leave you. Time to wander for some food and see Kyoto all lit up. Until tomorrow! All going to plan it will be stories of bamboo forests and monkey parks.