Remember my post the other week from a rain covered Osaka? Well, here is the prologue leading up to that evening. Welcome to Friday and day seven of our Japan trip, an intense day travelling from temple sites to urban jungles.
We start off the morning touring Nara – Japan’s first ever permanent capital; today renowned for housing one of the world’s largest bronze statues and about 1200 deers who roam around the town as they please.
The Bronze Statue in question is the near 15 metre tall Daibutsu (‘giant Buddha’). To give you an idea just how giant it is, one nostril measures about 50 centimetres(!). While we are on a number dropping spree, the statue is also kept in one of the world’s largest scale wooden buildings. Pretty impressive, hey?
Originally the creation was completely covered in gold leaf, making it a construction that brought Japan close to bankruptcy back in the 8th century.
The deer on the other hand were in pre-buddhist times believed to be messengers of the gods; a reputation they are still enjoying the benefits of as they wander around town; slowing down cars and chasing (particularly the children of) tourists that are unfortunate enough to carry food around.
Nara is a fairly compact town, so we manage to do a loop around its main sights before the rain does so.
We have lunch at Kinatei; enjoying our warm meal with the dusky weather hovering outside, then place the first ever pins for “Umeå” on the owner’s map over her guests.
On impulse, we catch a train to Osaka rather than returning to Kyoto for the afternoon. I really had no expectations for this 3rd largest city of Japan (rather than it being a massive urban jungle), but boy am I glad that we went!
After spending some time lost in one of the city’s many stylish-enormous-shopping complexes, we reluctantly head out to the rain and winds outside, trying to catch some sights of the town.
We followed Lonely Planet’s “Sights of Minami”-city walk, covering about 2.2 kilometres of the city. First on the hit list was the Amerika-mura neighbourhood, which (as you may have guess from both name and photographs) translates to American Village. The name derives from shops that started to appear in the area after the second world war.
The general vibe is sort of futuristic and hip (I feel SO OLD whenever I attempt using the word hip?!), with many things to rest eyes upon; from murals to peculiar street lights and not to forget the miniature Statue of Liberty surveying it all from the rooftops.
Continuing on, the map takes us down the Shinsaibashi-suji arcade – a market street that routes all the way down to the Dotombori-gawa canal and where you will encounter the bridge Ebisu-bashi.
Take a moment to stop on the bridge for photos of the glittering neon signs reflecting in the canal (well, on a clear day I imagine so) and look back at the crowds making their way down the market arcade.
Finally, as we were walking down the infamous and buzzing Dotombori Street, I thought to myself
All that glitters is not gold.
Sometimes it is NEON
and that is a heck of a lot better!”
As mentioned, we end the evening at Le Coccole – the cherry atop this pleasant surprise-afternoon, before taking the train back to Kyoto; with drenched socks but with eyes and bellies very well-fed.
This was part 4/7 of my Japan Photo Diary, if you enjoyed this post you can find the previous parts below: