Andrew’s world in Japan 2017/August

Artist & researcher based in KL since 2009, passionately exploring the creative process & connecting with other creative people.

A Visit to Nara – Part 2
Dinner with a friendly stranger

The outskirts of Osaka’s highway link landed our ride willing to Nara. Our initial goal was Kyoto, but the driver was only going to Nara and that seemed like a nice stop off en route, so we went for it. Hour’s later, nearing dusk; Julien and I were standing at the edge of Sarusawa-ike. In the background stood the impressive historic Kofukuji Temple. A path encircling the lake gave us our first tour of the area. With a number of good views, as to be expected, I was excited but struggled to stay energized to take photos, heavy pack weighing down my shoulders. No complaints though as the timing was quite perfect. Cherry blossoms were in bloom. Vibrant colors of spring abundant.

Today the former capital city now called Nara still hosts delightful architecture in numerous Buddhist Temples, Palace, gates, plazas, halls, gardens and centers. Although you may find more tourists captivated by the abundant deer in Nara Park. These creatures seem to be a key attraction. To the extent there are vending machines stocked solely to provide a source of food for you to enjoy the experience of feeding the deer. Believe me when I say, of which I’ll go into greater detail soon, the deer are not shy and almost aggressive.

During our exploration of the lake and Kofukuji area, we began to hear our tummy’s growl and decided to ask around for recommendations. We approached a friendly elder man and proceeded into a brief conversation that eventually brought us to our inquiry. He went through some options and it turned out he was on a visit from Osaka and usually eats his first meal at a particular yakiniku establishment. He extended an invitation to join him and in our state of openness we said: “sure, why not.” It turned out to be a good choice as the food was impeccable, and he even picked up the bill in the end. A very generous host, but I would be remiss to say it was completely perfect evening, which for me, was most of the fun. We ate and drank our fill merrily as he proceeded to pick our brains on various topics and share with us his admiration for Germans and in particular Hitler. Another part of the dialog, being that my travel companion was from France, was to listen to the gentleman jealously dwell on a supposed Japanese female extreme fetish for the romantic French. Sometimes conversations can delve into the realm of offensive subjects when sharing large numbers of drinks with an older Japanese salary man; or with anyone for that matter. Just one of those wonderful assets and liabilities of alcohol.

After thanking him and parting ways, our next move was where to sleep. Keeping true to Julien’s travel philosophy was a major feat. And that night, I’d say we failed. The normal strategy lay in benefits of a big city, which Nara definitely was not. There were not many large apartment complexes that fit the bill and we ended up in a multi-story kind of single stairwell shop lot complex. At the top area, near the cleaning supplies, we laid out some plastic bags, cardboard and our sleeping bags. Maybe 30 minutes to an hour into our sleep, I heard the squawk of a two-way radio and knew the security would find us. He did and fortunately wasn’t mean about asking us to leave. I believe this was fully a blessing because had we stayed, we would have been locked in.