The conference is basically over, but everyone has a couple of free days so we decided to do some sightseeing. Liv, Shaun and I had decided to go to Nara today, and Marion, Andrea and Dorota came with us. Nara used to be the capital of Japan and has loads and loads of temples. The whole place is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We had to get a train to Kyoto and then another to Nara, taking about 1hr 15min. We found English maps and guides at tourist info, thanks to a very helpful lady working there. It was noticeably colder here and it started to rain as we arrived. We had a look around some tourist tat shops and a random temple not on the tourist map.

We then went to Kofukuji Temple and saw the 3- and 5-storey pagodas. We didn’t bother paying to go into any of the buildings. We then walked through Nara Park, saying hello to the various deer which are protected here. There are about 1200 of them.

On to Todaiji Temple, which was well worth the visit and getting cold and wet. You walk up a pedestrianised street to an enormous gate with huge statues, then keep walking past various temple buildings and a shrine on a lake, to the main building. All the while having deer pester you for snacks. The temple houses the biggest Buddha in Japan. And he really is huge. There is also a small hole at the bottom of one of the pillars which, if you can fit through, you will be granted enlightenment in your next reincarnation. I saw a very petite Japanese lady struggle through and decided it was best avoided.

We then walked up the hill to Nigatsudo and got a view over the city. Shame the weather was rubbish. We warmed up in a nearby cafe then walked back down to the station.

We took a train to Osaka which took about an hour, hoping to meet Komal and Chris there, but they ended up in Kyoto at a meeting and it all kinda fell apart. We had a quick look in one of the shopping malls attached to the station, before deciding it was rather expensive.

Instead we went to the enormous Yodobashi electronics shop. Choice is not the word to describe it. Over-choice perhaps would be (if it was a word!). I wanted headphones. There were at least 200 to choose from. Probably about 1000 if you included earphones too. Massively overwhelmed by it all. I found the camera floor but decided it would be dangerous to stay. The shop also housed toys. Including porn manga dolls.

We then headed for a Ferris Wheel but it didn’t appear to be on or lit up, so we went for a beer instead, and then got the train back. Very cold and wet and bedraggled. I struggled for food today without Hideyuki, and wimped out when we got back to Takatsuki: I got a Subway sandwich by pointing to the stuff I wanted on it! Dead to the world by 9.30pm.

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