asia04 (asia04) wrote,

Kyoto and Nara

This morning we had breakfast at Starbucks (of course), and were amazed by how expensive orange juice is! (about $3.50 for a tiny cup.) We took the train to Nara, where we got on a bus to Nara Kouen (big park in Nara that a lot of shrines and temples are in). There were lots of cute deer! They were pretty tame, but they still wandered away if you came too close.

We went to Toudai-ji, where we saw the Daibutsu (giant bronze Buddha). The buddha was in a wooden structure, and apparently it was commissioned in like 700AD or something. Pretty neat! We wandered around the park after that and saw some buildings from hundreds of years ago, which was pretty cool. We had udon for lunch at a little place in the park. Unfortunately, it started raining (and thundering!), so I managed to get change from someone in a store and we found a bus back to the train station (after wandering out an exit from the park where we were totally lost).

Of course, by the time we got on the train it had stopped raining. We went back to Kyoto anyway, where we hopped on the subway to Nijou-jou, which is a castle built by a shogun in 1603. It was huge, and had a moat, rock walls, and expansive gardens. Inside the castle, there were paintings on the paper walls done by a famous artist of the time (trees, landscapes, birds, tigers, etc). The wooden floors ("nightingale" floors) squeaked on purpose, to warn the shogun of anyone sneaking in to assassinate him!

After the castle, we went to a Japanese candy store, where we bought something that`s made out of rice covered with molasses (Ben says it`s a Japanese rice crispy treat). We got back on the train and came to the Kyoto station, where we had dinner at a Japanese chain Italian place (not nearly as good as Olive Garden). We found our way back to the hostel, and here we are.

Japan is really strange in many ways -- the biggest problem I have with Kyoto is that the streets are not labeled. Only the really big streets are labeled, and sometimes the intersection is labeled but not the streets (for example, if in the valley we were at the intersection of Victory and Shoup, there`s just a big sign that says Victoryshoup).

Anyway, we haven`t gotten too lost yet. Let`s hope we`ll be okay tomorrow too!

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