Tuesday, January 23, 2007


On Thursday 21st September 2006, Phyllis and I decided to take a day trip from Kyoto to Nara. It wasn't far - and Japanese trains being what they are, it was a very comfortable journey.

On leaving the train in Nara, we headed straight for the Tourist Information Centre. Having been armed with maps and pamphlets by a delightful old lady, we took the temple route. Our first port of call was a mere five minute walk away. Every other, it seemed, were at similar intervals. Il y a beaucoup de temples in Nara, dear reader.

As well as lots of temples, there are lots of deer. And how tame! And yes, I did hear people use the word Bambi a few times. There must have been hundreds of these wonderful creatures, just freely roaming the parks, streets and alleys of Japan's ancient capital.

What could this be? Not another temple? Surely not! Todai-ji, where sits the Great Buddha in the largest wooden building in the whole wide world.

Before entering, we lit our rather fat incense sticks, wafting the smoke into our faces.

Here, the Great Buddha as seen with our own eyes, through the lens of the camera. Well, strictly speaking, that's not true, hen. How many people see life through a lens these days? The image, above, is as seen on the screen of my digital camera.

Do you think a time will come, my love, when people will drop the word digital when referring to their cameras?

One of the supporting posts in the Great Buddha Hall has a hole that has been cut through the base. Visitors try to pass through the hole which is said to be the same size as one of the Great Buddha's nostrils. Legend has it that those who pass through it will be blessed with enlightenment in their next life. Children usually have no trouble getting through but adults sometimes get stuck and need to be pulled out. The Chinese girl, above, was having a great deal of trouble. I didn't stay to see the next girl in the queue who was, let's say, big boned.

Racism is alive and well in Japan. Ian and I saw signs in quite a few locations, usually at the entrance to unspecified businesses, stating Japanese only. The Chinese don't have a good name for themselves. The Japanese label them thieves. This was quite evident in the temple shop. The ladies behind the counter were watching their Chinese guests like hawks.

From Todai-ji, we took a walk through a wooded area to the top of a hill. More temples en route.

Bored with the gay ones, I decided to have a straight flash. I was desperate for it.

Do you think I should submit this to the Engrish website, my love? I emailed them with the Kac Shop photograph, but haven't heard a thing!

We were soon at the top. Quite a delightful view. A schoolboy offered to take a photograph of us. We were told to make these V signs with our fingers. Apparently, it makes the subject look cute. He departed our company asking us, "How are you?" We replied accordingly, only for the boy to run off, giggling.

On our way down, we bought some biscuits for the deer. They were ¥150 per pack. And more wafers than biscuits.

As I previously mentioned, the deer are quite tame. As soon as they see a pack of these treats, smell them or hear the unwrapping of the paper keeping them together, they surround their victim.

Patient, they are not. Take too long to unwrap the biscuits and be prepared for a wee nip! Nothing nasty, just a gentle reminder. And they don't particularly care where they bite, either, dear reader, if you catch my drift. Ouch!

Phyllis is the new Doctor Dolittle.

Heading back to the train station, we came upon this adorable young family. That beautiful deer simply did not mind being sat on at all.

We're heading back to Japan at the end of May for a short break. Sterling is really strong at the moment. We're tempted to buy our Yen now, but are not sure if it's the right time to take the plunge as it's suggested UK interest rates might rise another quarter of one per cent at some point within the next two or three months. This news story, although informative, isn't very helpful with our quandary. What would you do, dear reader?

Another man in a quandary is Tony Blair. Should he let the Catholics discriminate against homosexuals? His party faithful would surely advise him, no. However, the word on the street is that once he leaves office, he's going to convert to Catholicism, like his wife. Dare he upset the leaders of the gang he wants to join? His wife, acting as a QC has worked on behalf of gay people in the past, making accusations of discrimination, but she's never, to my knowledge, accused the Catholic Church of discrimination. Would she do so, dear reader, if this new legislation passes through the Commons and Lords without amendment?


matty said...

Sadly, I think racism is alive and well everywhere. However, I've always heard it to be worse in Asia --- and, Japan in particular. Sad.

However, your pictures are so gorgeous! I so want to visit Asia! Japan and Korea are dream destinations for me after London and Paris.

You need to take more care around deer. They are quite dangerous and can hurt you! When I was last in Texas one had jumped up on its haunches and plowed into a poor woman who was only trying to shoot it. ...Her collar bone was broken and the vile deer was last seen wandering about I-10! Scary stuff -- those beasts!

Anonymous said...

I'm jealous of your upcoming jaunt to Japan. The dollar is low against just about every major currency - it's depressing.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE the picture of you and Ian. So adorable! ;)

Lewis said...

"Straight Flash"....you have got to be kidding. That could be an entire (lengthy) blog entry all by itself. I'm loving the trips and the pics.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful photos, Minge! Thanks!
Tony Blair converting to Catholicism?! OmG!!!
I've had it! Faceless morons that's what politicians are!