Today started with the Fushimi Inari-Taisha shrine. Like the many shrines before it, it was neato spegetto. I *think* that was first at least… I’m sitting here talking to my daughter about it now, and we can’t remember perfectly 😊 A good portion of it was another indoor-take-your-shoes-off thing. Was really cool though, because it has models of people in the different rooms in the Shogun’s house…. With descriptions of what the rooms would have been used for, who would have been hosted there and why. Some of the “why” was pretty interesting… like insulting the messengers from the Emperor by hosting them in the NW corner room? There was lots of other subtle insults too, like that they used cedar trees as decorations for those room, which implied that that the emperor’s rule was going to die… like cedars. This is as opposed to pine trees (black pine are the cool bonsai looking pine trees you see here) which represent living forever, because they are evergreens. As you walk through these houses, there’s a security system (anti ninja) in place where you hear what sounds like bird noises the whole time. He took us under the walk way at one point, and shows us the way the nails were setup to make that noise. Pretty neat.
We then had an interesting lunch, which was basically us just going to a giant grocery story and grabbing random snacks. I took this chance to buy some “normal” chopsticks. I don’t like collecting things which are just for decoration (obviously I can make exceptions for really neat things), and I wanted to get some chopsticks that I can really use and throw in the dishwasher. I have some nice metal ones from South Korea, but they’re flat, and MUCH harder to use than the kind they generally use in Japan. So, I finally found some here… everywhere else they were super fancy and just meant for decoration. Hopefully my sister like the pair I got her there as well… I think she thinks similarly about souvenirs?
Our next destination was Nara Forest. The Great Buddha was located here, but the coolest thing was definitely the wild deer which are completely used to people there. They’re considered sacred, as all natural things are in Shinto, and so hunting them is prohibited. They sell little rice treats for them there. They’ll bow to you to ask for a treat, but since they’re wild animals, they can be pretty aggressive about it. I only encountered one that was a *biter*, and he got my bum pretty good! I got several cool videos and pictures of feeding the deer, and some of them being aggressive with others.
In this same area, was a temple which housed the largest Buddha in the world. I think this was Todaiji Temple, but I might have that mixed up with the one I listed first. I don’t have Interweb access right now, so I can’t confirm it. Either way, this was the third Buddha at this location, as it burned down twice I believe. Each one was smaller than the last. So, while this is currently the largest Buddha in the world, there used to be some bigger ones. An interesting thing that was pointed out to us is the giant bell that’s at the entrance to this temple had one of its plates stolen once. They have a replica in place now, but it’s nuts that someone was able to steal one… it wasn’t small at all!
Our dinner tonight was pretty cool as well. We went to one of those places where you take your shoes off and sit on your knees around the table. The place is known for having really large bowls for the food, and they were indeed huge! Had a bit of sushi there which was obviously awesome as well.
Our final, option, destination was going to one of the two downtown areas in Osaka. It was huge!! It was another shopping destination, but we’ve had a lot of those already, so two other adults and I found a bar instead. I had their recommended cocktail which was developed by the bar owner, and it was yummy. I’m not much of a gin guy, but it was some lemon/gin mixture that was quite good.
Back to my earlier comment about collecting useful things, my wife and I have collection coasters for years now, but I’ve had a really hard time finding any. This bar had custom made cloth coasters which were pretty cool looking. It had the bar name on it, and the year they were established. I asked the owner if I could buy one, and he said yes… for 500 yen. I talked him into giving me two for 700 yen… I love bartering 😊
While I have already had some octopus balls (I can never remember what they’re called), Osaka is the place most well known for them. So, I REALLY wanted to get some more while there. So, I took a walk on my own when I got back to the hotel to find some. While looking, I found a massage place instead, and that sounded like a mighty great idea. It was only like 3,500 yen for an hour! It was a pretty decent massage, but it had an unusual twist. They had me put on a pair of their shorts and a t-shirt, but they would put a towel over each body part they massaged… so, rubbing your feet, shoulders, neck, whatever… they would have a towel on top. It was still well worth it!
Tomorrow we’re heading to Hiroshima, before coming back to Osaka for our last day I believe.