July 1st, 2019


Osaka: June 26, Nara

I finally made a 'big' trip, taking the train to Nara, 20 miles or so east of me. The best line is the Kintetsu, a different private train than the JR Line, and confusing in its overlapping lines; I found I was on the wrong train and transferred further down, though I didn't really lose time.

Nara is an old imperial capital, from the 700s AD, before the emperor moved to Kyoto. A lot of Buddhist temples were built then and remain today. Deer have been revered/protected since then, I think; at any rate there are like 1,200 sika deer roaming Nara, especially Nara Park. (I didn't actually see any in the rest of the city, in my brief time in it.) Lots of people sell packets of deer crackers so you can feed them to the deer.

Before I got to the park I passed a one-room seismic isolation museum, with some information on earthquakes and building coping strategies, and some models, including a motion chair you can sit in. Simulation of a 9.0 quake was pretty damn violent.

Top temple of the park is Toudaiji, meaning "eastern big temple". I didn't pay for the museum and great Buddha hall, figuring there would be enough things to do in the area without that. Which was true, though I find I don't have much to say about my experience. I found some elevated spot away from the crowds, which was nice. Walked through various bits, past a hill with more deer, ate some soba, found Kasugataisha (Kasuga grand shrine) (huh, the Fujiwara family shrine) which was closed for the admission area by the time I got there but might be worth another visit.

Walked back outside the park, past houses with actual yards, not sure if "land is cheap" or "rich houses". Then some pavilion island, Ukimi-do hall.

I discovered that Google Maps has no idea about buses in Nara, but searching elsewhere found a pretty frequent loop line that took me back to a train station. Very nice, actually: the bus stop had electronic displays showing where the buses were, the bus had bilingual announcements.

Lots of photos. Still haven't curated or uploaded them.

Since then it's been raining or extremely humid, so I've been reading at home, or venturing out just for food and socializing. I did read some explanations of oddities: public trash cans removed after the Aum Shinrikyo attacks, and have been only slowly moving back (before getting spooked again by the G20 summit.) No paper towels in public bathrooms because it doesn't make sense to give you things you won't be able to throw away. (Doesn't explain the lack of *soap*.) I've also been reading about Japanese nutrition labels. I keep buying drinkable yogurt that turns out to be sweetened and that needs to stop.

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