Thursday, April 21, 2011

Nara, Bamboo and the Amazing Atomu!

 As usual folks a lot has happened since my last blog! For starters I have done two road (well, rail trips, met a gazillion people and am now in Takayama where I finally have a few moments to myself to blog and get my diary up to date! So a few days ago now I journied to a place called Takarazuka. The purpose of this trip was to visit the Osamu Tezuka museum.
Tezuka was a Manga artist who created some amazing work over his too-short lifetime, including Astroboy (pictured) known as Atomu in Japan. The museum was small but I managed to spend several hours there reading Manga and learning about this gentle man. If you're a fan of Astroboy and in Japan, this is not to be missed!
 The next day saw me travel to Nara. A beautiful little city that, like Kyoto, is surrounded by mountains. In those mountains are many many deer, who have no fear of the human being and walk right up to inspect bags for food. Okay, they are not the main attraction. There are several gardens, countless temples and beautiful hills and forest to roam. The centre piece is the Todaji Temple, which is the biggest temple I have seen in Japan thus far (and used to be much bigger. It houses one magnificent Buddha (pictured) as well as several other large statues. Nara, like Kyoto, was once the capital of Japan.
 Other temples seen on this day include the Five-Storey Pagoda (above) and the Kasuga Taisha. There are more and impressive Halls as well. I did not give myself enough time in Nara unfortunately, it would be easy to spend the whole day walking around this area, however I only had a few hours. And then the rain came, which made it less fun, and then I was lost... but it's all part of the experience.
 Arashiyama is a district on the edge of Kyoto I visited for a couple of hours yesterday. A beautiful area not sure of souvineer shops, I managed to snap two girls dressed as Maikos on the street which was great (above). A beautiful river, yes - more temples too! And a bamboo forest that was quite enchanting (below)! I wandered the paths and found a couple of graveyards in amongst the bamboo, and a train line. It's amazing how these things appeared from nowhere in this high dense grove.
As you can see, there are even rickshaws through the grove if it takes your fancy!
So Kyoto is past already. I was there a week, the first time I have just stopped somewhere for so long in this trip. It is an amazing place. Now I find myself in Takayama after a breathtaking train journey through the mountains. After a week in Kyoto it feels weird that I will be back to moving on more frequently. A week seemed like I was there for ages, and at the same time I feel like I just touched down in Japan. One thing's for certain, in Kyoto, I only scratched the surface...

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