Our day started off with a traditional Japanese breakfast at the hotel in our yucata robes. It was very different from breakfast in America, very vegetable heavy. I also think this is the first time that I’ve ever had tuna for breakfast. It was great!
Next, we returned to the pagoda and the romantic pond we saw last night. In the day, the Nara deer come out, and they are hungry. Don’t turn your back on them, or they may try to take a nip out of you. For ¥150, you can buy little deer treats, and I’m told they don’t taste half bad.
Todaiji, or “large eastern temple,” was our first planned stop of the day. It is a Buddhist temple built by missionaries who studied in China. Dr. Stapp arranged through an old friend to have a special tour given to us by one of the monks.
He provided us close access to the main statues of Buddha and the Bodhisattvas. The main statue was huge. As an example of the scale, the ears are 3 meters tall, and each of the individual hair parts is the size of a basketball. Supposedly there are 32 differences between Buddha and normal people, such as webbing between the fingers of the hand, and are reflected in this statue. One of our members asked our guide why he was a monk. His response was because his parents were monks.
Lunch was not a success today: katsudo, a bowl of rice topped with pork cutlets and runny eggs. I tried it but needless to say, my palate is not optimized for runny eggs. Lunch was not a total loss, as I had more green tea ice cream for dessert.
The second scheduled stop today was Kasuga Shrine. There are over 5000 stone lamps around it, making it look like a forest of stone lamps. Each of the lamps has been added to the shrine over its long life. Some had been recent donations but others had been there for several centuries.
At the shrine, we had our fortunes read. Mine was moderate good fortune. Only one person received a bad fortune.
We returned to Kyoto and had a blast. After dropping off our Nara gear, we hung out at the Kyoto train station. I spent about Â¥950 on a huge plate of sushi that was pretty good. The station was also hosting an a cappella pop song contest in this huge amphitheater built into the side of the station. At the top of the station is an observation deck where you can see a large hunk of the city. The windows at the top of the station were dirty, so none of my pictures turned out very well, but you can get an idea of the enormous scale of the city.
Today’s Japanese lesson is “kochi sosama.” It is what you say after leaving a restaurant, but not after leaving a grocery store or clothes store.
Tomorrow, pottery and budo.