Rest & Recouperation in Nara
Trip Start Jan 30, 2010
25Trip End Feb 22, 2010
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Where I stayed
Super Hotel Eki
So I slept in until 10. It was lovely. In my sleep clothes, I popped down to reception and organised to stay another night. I went back up to my room and caught up on some emails, downloaded some photos and called home whilst wrapped up in a warm blanket. Just what I needed!
I was thinking about spending the whole day like this, but Andrew (and many others) had said how lovely Nara was, and I should pull myself together and get out there and see it. So around midday I jumped in the shower... and I realised how stinky I was from the sulfur in Beppu
First though, I needed some money and found the Post Office just up the road. I also grabbed another map as the one the hotel gave me was in Japanese. The great thing about Nara is that it is a fairly small city. The temple area is only 1.5km from the train station and is a really easy walk.
I head off down the mainstreet to find the three and five storied pagodas - figured they couldn't be to hard to find! Pretty soon I could see them so I knew I was heading in the right direction. I also found the Kofukuji Temple and the Nara National Museum, which meant the Tenoi-ji Temple would be just around the corner.
The Tenoi-ji Temple is where the biggest Buddha in Japan sits. It was truly an amazing structure. The great Budda was very awe-inspring and towered over all us little people. The other statues in the temple were also very large and beautifully ornate. There was a line of people waiting to strangely crawl through a hole in the bottom of one of the pillars
I had stopped and bought some souvenirs and was just about finished at this temple when to my utmost surprise, I saw Nat & Chris (the skiers from Brisbane we met in Niseko!). It was unbelievable!!! Not only where we in the same country still, and not even in same city, but the SAME temple! Who would have thought?? We caught up on where we had both been, and how I was by myself for the day, and again I tagged along with them.
However, the story gets even more bizarre. Just after we entered the temple (for me again) I saw Julie & Danielle (the Melbournites we had met on Miyajima Island)!!! We all couldn't believe what a coincidence and chance meeting this was - not one but two familiar faces on a day when I had hardly heard a word of English! Truly remarkable and I was truly lucky to have found such friends.
I only caught up with Julie and Danielle for a few minutes before catching up with Nat & Chris. I bought some more souvenirs (couldn't resist!) and asked Nat to take some pics of me at the temple (didn't get them first time through!) to prove I was actually there and didn't stay in the hotel all day!
We were walking along the road back out from the temple when Nat thought she'd grab some deer food
We continued on the path to the Kasuga Grand Shrine, which was so beautiful. It was very natural, lined with forests and stone lanterns covered in moss. The deer were camouflaged throughout the forest and a little less frisky than the deer at the temple, but were still very inquisitive. We paid the entrance fee (500Y) to the Shrine and had a look around. Although shrine ettiquette was posted quite clearly (NO PHOTOGRAPHS), we were all annoyed at the abnoxious man with a big camera who took a number of photos whilst a monk was praying at the shrine.
I still had to pinch myself that I was so lucky to have met my friends in the middle of a small city, in the middle of Japan. At the shrines, you can have your fortune told by purchasing a small scroll. I had not done so before as they had all been written in Japanese character, but at this shrine there was a big sign to say there was an English option. So for 500Y I picked out a wooden deeer with my fortune scrolled up in its mouth (it was a cute holder too!)
Anyway, after the excitement, we decided to grab a quick dinner together as Nat & Chris were only in Nara for the day and heading back to Kyoto that evening. We went to the noodle place next door to my hotel, which was cheap (and very cheerful!). I decided on the pork cutlet on rice which Nat ordered for me beautifully in Japanese. It was ready within a few minutes, and I hoed it down as I realised that I had not only missed breakfast, but had skipped lunch too! After dinner, we said our goodbyes (again) and they headed off to the train station.
I however, was on a mission to order a massage, as I had seen the advertisement when we checked in. I organised a Japanese Shiatsu massage for 7pm in my room. It was soooooo what the doctor ordered
Precisely at 7pm, a tall and skinny Japanese man knocked on the door. He introduced himself by bowing and telling me he had little English, which was great as I didn't feel like talking much anyway (how unusual for me!). After trying to figure out whether to undress or not, and working out that it was ok to stay in my clothes I was a little more comfortable. He pressed hard, but not to the point of hurting, so it felt great - especially on my feet. When the hour was up I asked simply for 10 minutes more on my feet as it was so good! He worked on the reflexology points (many of which I understand), but told me in particular that my kidneys were "not good". I made a mental note to drink more water today (or perhaps it's all the doughnuts and ice cream I have been eating)! Anyway, at the end of it I was completely relaxed and ready for sleep!