So Tuesday marked our epic trip to Nara for the annual Candle Festival that is held there. Chizuko had warned us of the possibility of rain, so first thing in the morning I headed down to the 100 yen shop and got a 55cm umbrella, so I could cover my camera and stuff if need be - and thank God I did! (Carly took her Gortex and travel umbrella. My travel umbrella was from Kmart, so it kind of collapsed in on itself when I tried to use it the day before. Once again, Kmart Quality at its best!) The weather in Nara reminded me of Australia when it just changes weather conditions so much in one day. By the time I got back from the shops I was so hot and sweaty that I actually wondered why the hell had I bought the umbrellas for! Carly noted that I looked like some kind of sweaty beast as I back in our room and collapsed in the cool on my bed. On the way to the subway Carly got shat on by a bird, which I found quite amusing. Nanna Vause's tissues came in handy once again! haha PS that bird gave Carly crappy luck...It still rained!!!! We met up with Chizuko at Tanimachi-QueChome (for a while there we thought it was pronounced 9 Chrome...didn't realise there was no 'r'...our bad!)
Righto, there was apparently meant to be a Typhoon coming through last night and today...but so far...it's just been a bit of pissy rain. Which is a little disappointing...a bit of wind and rain would have been a nice change to the straight 35 degrees of sun and humidity we've had every single day we've been here. Ok that's a lie, it rained on Monday, but still.
Back to the story - Chizuko, Carly and my self met up with Yoshida-san and hopped onto the JR express line to Nara, it was actually only $5 to get there which isn't too bad. The views were amazing from the train as we went through the city of Osaka and up and through a mountain! Soo amazing...and the photography we took probably didn't do it any justice...as it was a bit hard getting good photos while going along in a train at the same time. Here are some on the way up anyway:
We finally arrived in Nara at around 4pm, where we met up with Chizuko's sister and then found what we dub DeerBaby.
Deer baby is every where, on everything, in Nara. Carly and I found it quite hilarious, and continuously pointed 'Deer BayBeh' out every time we saw it! haha
Once we got out of the station, we started walking up towards all of the temples and things where the festival was being held. On the way we found that deer run wild everywhere around Nara, in between all the hustle and bustle and cars and what not. There were a few times you had to cringe as they just ran out in front of buses and all sorts that had to slam on their brakes. We were surprised the cars didn't go slower! The deer themselves are pretty friendly and got some wicked shots of them! However, by this stage, as we reach the underground path that led up to the park entrance, the sky was starting to grey and I was very glad I'd bought the umbrellas earlier on.
We entered the park area and headed up the road leading to Todaiji Temple. It was full of people and deer down the middle; with gift and souvenir shops on the left, and side shows and food stalls on the right.
Because Todaiji closed at 5 30, we hurried past everything to get to the temple. The first arch that you pass has two old carved figures that look like gods or monsters that I think protect the temple. They are around 1300 years old, and we were told that last year when they went under restoration, they found parchments from 800 years ago! We spent about 5mins there just gawking at the sheer size of them, before continuing to the temple as it started to lightly spit.
It was only $5 to get into the temple grounds, and we were amazed at how big it was. The grounds were quite large, and surrounded by a big sheltered wall/walkway. There was also a main walkway to the temple in the middle which we headed towards, underneath the shelter from the surrounding wall. We came up to the large main gates in the middle of the wall facing the temple and took a few photos, and as we did, the rain set in. Not like any rain in Adelaide, this was almost as if someone was pouring a huge bucket of water from the sky. The kind that makes you soaked to the bone in a second. After rising intensity in the rain, the sky grew darker and mist rose up from the mountains around and the thunder and lightening began. All in all, it was an amazing mix being at the huge temple with such grizzly weather. We loved it! It made it exciting and different from the usual sight seeing.
With the rain so heavy, only Carly and my self took the side path into the temple, as the main one was out in the weather and the rain was just too hard to battle against. I ended up (regretfully) leaving my good camera with Chizuko and everyone, while Carly and I just took my green waterproof one so it didn't matter if it got wet, and we didn't care about ourselves either, because it was still humid; so we'd dry out eventually. We battled along the left hand side shelter, because it was raining on an angle, we still got very wet, maybe my self more than Carly - as she had her Gortex on, which was quite the battler against the rain. Kind of like the Superman of Raincoats! (Dennis you would've been proud!) haha
Finally we got into the temple, and it was already almost 5:30. We never seen such a huge buddha. Apparently the whole thing was infused with gold! It was just amazing to stare up at it, while listening to the rain belting down and the thunder echoing eerily around the room. To the left sat a mini Buddha, and a creepily tall staircase next to that. Then, behind the main Buddha was small replicas of the temple and wall, then to the right was more old carvings and statues.
The best thing that we found however (aside from the overly massive Buddha and creepy staircase of course) was this tiny hole at the bottom of one pillar that, if you could climb through it, it is said you will live for a long time. So of course I squished and wriggled my way through, and my god that hole was tiny as it was actually meant for children and Size 0 Japanese people. However, I successfully managed to get through and was quite proud of myself. While Carly filmed and laughed at my expense haha.
I had lined up for quite a while to get in the hole, so by the time I was through, the Temple was closing and we had to get out of there. It was still raining when we got back to the wall at the entrance.
When we got back to Chizuko and everyone, we waited around for a little while and started eating…then totally got told off - ‘NO EATING IN THE TEMPLE AREA!’ ...apparently. Well, I didn’t see any signs… haaa my bad. Shortly after, even though it was still pouring, we got kicked out of the temple as it was way past 5:30 and officially closed. So trudging through the rain with my awesome 105yen umbrella, I had my camera bag and hand bag stuffed up against my chest to keep it out of the rain while from the waist down I was a soggy mess. Carly however, was still in her Gortex and had managed to zip her bag under it which made her look like a soaked and pregnant penguin. We were quite the sight as we made our way back. Fortunately, the rain started to lighten up as we headed towards the souvenir shops to have a look.
All the food carts and stalls on the other side had closed up by the time we arrived, as most were drowned out, and the ones that remained only had soggy squid tentacles on offer, which I could safely say, I did not find appetising in any shape or form. Once we got to the Nara Souvenir shop, the rain had basically stopped, and as we got to the door we even got ‘umbrella bags’ so that we could carry them easily around the shop – the Japanese really do think of everything! The shop was pretty awesome! I didn’t have a good look over at the left hand side much as it was filled with ill looking treats and plush DeerBaybeh’s! The right hand side had some pretty cool stuff though.The back part of the shop was amazing! It was dedicated to ninja and samurai accessories, and not just fakes! They had real swords, ninja stars, throwing spikes, foot spikes, batons….it was awesome! They were all pretty cheap for what they were too…if only you could actually get those sort of things through customs... Once we got out of the shop, it started to get darker as the sun sunk behind the clouds. So we made our way over to our next destination – the floating temple…I actually have no idea what it’s called…but did get some cool photos of it. I think the one thing we loved about Nara was the fact it was mostly growth and trees and not so much of the industrialist surrounds of Osaka. On the way we saw some of the lanterns that had been lit, but nothing compared to the amount that was meant to be. We also saw the section where I think the deer are MEANT to be…however they kind of just roam around everywhere – I have to say I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to be driving through Nara! The mist that was rising up over the mountains from the mix of heat, humidity and rain was unbelievable and quite eery.We reached the floating temple, which was out over a bridge on the water. I was glad they had set up majority of the lanterns on it by the time we got there while the rain let up and I was able to get a few photos of it, before the rain picked back up again. We got told the lantern festival was going to go ahead, but by the time we reached the area for it, the rain was so bad again that it was cancelled for sure.
Luckily, we ended up finding a bus that took us back to the station where we went an Italiano restaurant where Carly was able to get her beloved Cheese Pizza and I had Spaghetti Bolognaise. We got a set that also came with an antipasto Ham starter platter and a Coke. We were pretty thankful for another free dinner, and the Spaghetti Bolognaise wasn't too bad. The ham was a bit weird...bit redder than usual and quite fatty...but was actually quite nice. I also found that eating salad with chopsticks is a lot easier than with a fork! haha Although, everyone used a fork for their dinner which was good (nice and easy...and made my etiquette look a lot neater) haha We also found a Daiso (another 100yen shop) and Chizuko bought us some cool playing cards to add to our collection :-)
Nothing too exciting happened on the train back besides the fact I found you can take a picture of your reflection across the seats...but only until someone comes and sits down in front of you and ruins everything.
The rest of the week wasn't too exciting. We tried KFC here for the first time, it was horrible, except for the original recipe piece of chicken, as always. But the chips, my god! No salt, just tasted of the fatty fat it was cooked in! So we won't be going back there! We also went to Umeda a couple of times during the week and we got some imported food - Pringles, Oats, Pasta sauce, El Paso Tacos (10 of which I managed to completely burn in the oven....) and some Milky Way bars! Yoshida-san also took us to the movies again yesterday to see SALT. We don't recommend it to anyone, it was pretty damn crap, but still good to get out. We went out for dinner to another Italian restaurant, which was lovely, and once again for free! Then on the way back to the subway station, she also took us to a famous Swedish bakery to pick out some things for our breakfast the next day! We felt so guilty...but at the same time we are quite enjoying being spoilt while we're over here.
Well that's all from us for now, keep the comments rolling in! We love your comment love, and missed it miserably on our last post. Remember guys, we're the ones buying your presents...eh...EH!!