Osaka Day Three – Nara

I headed out to Nara today and I was horribly late. I originally planned to go to the Osamu Tezuka Museum, but it’s closed on Wednesdays and sadly I mistook that for Tuesday. So today was about hitting Nara and I wished that I got up earlier. I unlocked the power of my JRail pass and then misread the signs at the Station and wasted a lot of time. I thought the signs may have said “Nara”, because that’s where I was expecting to go. I didn’t know further along the line is another place called “Koma” which is the train’s final stop. I watched the sprawl go by, because as Jonathan said last night, it never appears to end. This is true I guess, but there was a moment where there was only fields and forests, before the city swallowed up the green horizon again. While on the train, I began to wonder if the girl at the information booth had somehow mistakenly given me the wrong information and that I was headed off to some random location. But after an hour the conductor was dropping the names of stations that appeared in my guidebook map.

Nara is a fairly low lying place. That is to say, it’s didn’t have any massive buildings rising out of the ground. It’s home to a Daibutsu, a massive statue of the Buddha housed in Tōdai-ji By the time I’m off the train, I orient myself and then I’m storming towards the temple grounds. I thought nothing would stop me, but hunger does. I hadn’t eaten anything and it was just hitting two o’clock. I saw a Mos Burger and remembered that Staples claimed he survived on them while over here. It was surprisingly filling. But daylight was burning and i needed to see these Buddhas. Eventually the streets became viridian parklands ahead of my lay massive crowds and roaming deer.

I wasn’t too upset coming this late in the day. Honestly, I expected that there might be less people around and therefore a better shot at taking some cool photos. And while I’m sure that it was certainly less busy, the place was still packed with tourists and large swarms of kids of a variety of ages and schools. The other thing to mention is there were lots of deer freely roaming around the parklands. There were signs around how you should not mess with the deer. These deer rule these parks and you should not fuck with them, they may in fact kick you, butt you or trample over the top of you. If you attempt to fuck up the deer, the deer police will in turn remind you, brutally, that the deer are protected and not to be fucked with. The only things you should be doing with the deer, is either, buy some deer crackers for about a hundred yen, or ignore them. I chose wisely to ignore them, because I didn’t have time to waste, getting mugged by a gang of three bucks and two does when they realised I had “the stuff”. Other people, did not choose the same and were subsequently accosted by deer and then chased when they ran.

The thing about the Tōdai-ji temple is everything is massive, the gates dwarf everything else around them. I picked up a ticket and went inside. Initially, I felt gipped or blind, because I could not see any damn massive bronze Buddha. But then my eyes adjusted to the light and there he sat on a podium about twelve feet up. This daibutsu is five hundred tonnes and is the largest bronze buddha. The daibutsen which houses the buddha along with a handful of other large statues is the largest wooden structure in the world. I took a little time to take some photos, buy some souveniers and then head out.

With my main mission complete, I walked back through Nara talking a better look of what was around me. One major feature at the moment is this guy called Sentakun to celebrate Nara’s 1300th year. And he is everywhere, on biscuit tins, on vending machines, as charms and toys. I decided to pick up a tombola which varied between about six or seven different types of figure. Only preferred two of among those displayed. And as luck would have it, I managed to get one of them.

Later on I took the train back to Osaka and wanted to see if I could navigate my way around Shinsaibashi to Nipponbashi, without a map. Turns out my sense of direction was not at all up to scratch and I managed to get badly lost and it required a lot of walking through some shady-looking areas (they seemed devoid of life, though they may have been perfectly safe) to find out something familiar and then after some dinner (a kind of chicken and pork stew that I had to cook myself) I managed to find the train station and ride it back to base.

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