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07/24/2011

Nara and Kyoto

I believe I mentioned this in a post a while ago, but because of the electricity shortage Sophia University decided to shorten the semester -- so instead of finals going until the end of July, we all finished our finals on July 20th. That has given everyone a lot of free time to explore Tokyo and surrounding areas in Japan, which we have all taken great advantage of! Last Thursday and Friday, I took off to explore Nara and Kyoto - it was a great trip!

I left Tokyo Wednesday night by overnight bus, which actually wasn't too bad - I was super tired so I was able to sleep the whole way, and the bus was even darker than my room so it was a pretty good sleep. I got to Kyoto around 7:30am Tuesday morning and then took a train to Nara, which is well-known for all of its temples and shrines. I'd actually never been before -- when my family was in Japan three years ago we were supposed to go, but the afternoon my dad had planned for us was the same one when I found out I had a shellfish allergy (after eating seafood for lunch)... needless to say I couldn't make the trip.

But, this time I made it to Nara pretty early Tuesday morning and went to drop my bag off at the hostel before beginning to explore the area. I walked SO much today and yesterday - I should probably get better sandals. But anyways, I spent most of Tuesday wandering around looking at the different shrines and temples -- they were absolutely beautiful, so just look at the pictures! One thing of interest was at Todai-ji where there is another big buddha statue, and one of the temple columns has a hole at the bottom that is the same size as the buddha statue's nostril. If you can fit through the hole, supposedly it aids you on your path to enlightenment! It was a tight squeeze, but I eventually wriggled through and a very nice gentleman took some pictures for me. It was quite the experience! My favorite thing of the day were the lanterns at the Kasuga Taisha (Shrine) -- there were both bronze and stone lanterns, hundreds of them, and they were absolutely amazing.  Check out my Facebook photo album for lots and lots of pictures!

Todai-ji

 

Wriggling through the nostril hole!

 

Kasuga Taisha lanterns~~

 

Toshodai-ji

 

Later in the afternoon I got pretty tired so I went back to the hostel to take a nap. I met a girl from London who spent two weeks visiting a friend in Tokyo and is now traveling around Japan for another two weeks -- we bonded over the joys of solo traveling and then I passed out in my super comfortable bed until dinner time. For dinner, I wandered around looking for something to eat until I found a picture of something appetizing outside a restaurant -- I went inside and ordered it, and then when it came I realized it had some unknown bits of what I presumed to be seafood. I decided to eat some of it anyways -- big mistake. After dinner I was able to walk around more and see some of the sights that were illuminated at night, but when I got back to the hostel I started to not feel well. Later at night I had another allergic reaction -- something about me and Nara I guess.... But, I made it through the night and felt fine today, so things could be worse I guess.

This morning I woke up, packed up, and headed from Nara back to Kyoto (about an hour by train). I didn't have much of a plan, so I got a map "eigo no chizu" (English map) and started exploring. I came to Kyoto with my family before, and my dad is a great tour guide so I figured he had shown us most of the interesting places. The first temple I went to, I can't remember the name of, but it was apparently the biggest wooden building in the world. I lost my map there, so after that my plans were pretty much shot... But, after a lot of wandering around I made it to Ginkaku-ji, or the Silver Pavillion, which wasn't as awe-inspiring as the Golden Pavillion (also in Kyoto) but was still really pretty. I also wandered through the Kyoto Imperial Palace Grounds, which are now surrounded by a big public park. You can't go into the actual palace grounds, but you can get closer than you can in Tokyo! I saw some royal roofs, at least.

 

The giant wooden building~

 

Ginkaku-ji

 

Once I was sufficiently tired out I headed back to Kyoto Station to take the shinkansen home. Let me just say, a 3 hour bullet train ride is definitely > a 7 hour overnight bus ride. But, it takes bus rides to really make you appreciate the shinkansen I guess. (For reference, Kyoto -> Tokyo is about twice as far as Boston is from New York City, but you can make the bullet train trip in less time than it takes to drive from Boston to NY!) I made it home to delightfully cool weather in Tokyo, which has continued for a few days now. It's nice to have a break from the heat, but I think it's supposed to get hot again starting tomorrow. A bunch of CIEE students are going with SISEC on a big camping trip -- it should be a lot of fun! After that, I'll have a few days left in Tokyo before heading home on August 1st - can't believe it's that time already. This semester has flown by! Matane~~

 

Comments

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You have the best time of your life in Japan, it's so amazing. It's my old dream to live for some time in Japan and learn oriental culture. I envy you)


i like the theme and colors that you used for your blog, is it a custom theme ? .”-”-*

But the sites do not mention that the foam is made from petroleum-based chemicals, starting from the proper foam to flame retardants and viscosity inducing agents. First: what does polyurethane mean

such a beautiful house. i would love to study Japanese tradional house

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