In true Pope fashion, we didn’t waste a single minute…we checked off one thing after another on his “must see” list! Tokyo, Osaka, Nara, Hiroshima, and all the small stops along the way…including the wonderful city of Yamato where we currently live!
WARNING: This blog is so full of photos, it might blow your mind…don’t bother to view the entire thing unless you truly want an overload of pictures from about 15 places in Japan…when I said our friend Pope is a tourist, I wasn’t kidding, he takes being a sightseer to a whole new level….his quote for the trip was that he would, “sleep when he got back on the plane to go home!” So sleep we didn’t, and tour Japan we did!
The Japanese loved Pope...being tall and blonde, it was hard for him to blend in! (Not that he wanted to!)
The travel books boast about the beauty of the Osaka Castle during Cherry Blossom season, however we were completely in awe of it surrounded by the gorgeous autumn leaves!
The Castle has a moat on either side…making it that much more alluring!
Surrounded by a high stonewall to ward off the enemy, the Castle appears to be 5 stories from the outside, but is actually 8 stories inside.
This street went on forever…cars weren’t allowed to drive up and down it, but instead there were people and vendors galore! Restaurants, bars, food stands, Pachinko Parlors, and stores with everything from A to Z lined either side of Doutonbori.
We wanted to introduce our friend to one of our favorite Asian meals, “Korean BBQ!” But, like I said, Doutonbori Street had it all, so we had plenty of places to choose from!
Korean BBQ, or gogi gui, is the Korean method of grilling meat. Beef, pork, chicken, etc. are prepared on gas or charcoal grills that are built into the center of the table. Therefore, you get to cook your own meat to the temperature that you like it! It is super delicious…that is, if you like meat!
The next day, we left Osaka and traveled over to the city of Nara.
This little dude was seen everywhere...the people loved him...and so it appears did my husband and our guest!
Nara is known for the hundreds of deer that roam free all around the city, however those tame animals were not what held our attention…it was the enormous Buddha and the delicious food that put this city on our “must come back” list.
Nara Park, a 1,300-acre area, is where most of the temples are located. Over 1,300 tame deer, called “Shika,” wander the park. These deer are deemed “messengers of the Gods.”
Todai-ji Temple is a World Heritage Site…and a site to see it is! This wooden structure was built to enshrine Buddha, but unfortunately was destroyed by fire twice! Thus, the present structure is only two-thirds of the original size. However, it is still the largest wooden building in the world!!!
The opening of this column is supposedly the same size as Buddha's nostril. If you are able to crawl through it, you are guaranteed entrance to Nirvana! (Obviously, we could only peep our heads in….it seems only the small children are getting Nirvana, because they are the only ones who could squeeze through the tiny hole!)
This creepy statue sits outside the building that holds Buddha. Visitors with ailments are to rub the body part of the statue corresponding with the part of their body that needs fixing....hmmm?
The food was worth the wait at the dinner spot we had chosen…
The dish this restaurant was famous for is called, Kamameshi. Kamameshi means "kettle rice" and is a traditional Japanese rice dish cooked in an iron pot. By cooking it in an iron pot, the rice gets slightly burned at the bottom which adds a desirable flavor to the rice. The burnt rice is called "okoge." It is SOOOO YUMMY! We had never heard of such a dish before, but apparently it is popular in that part of Japan!
Hiroshima was next on the agenda. Nick and I have already been there, but Pope had the Peace Memorial Museum on his list…so onward they went!
Nick and Kenneth also went to Miyajima Island to see the famous floating Torri Gate!
On their way back home, the boys stopped by the Himeji Castle. (which I have NOT seen!) It is the largest and most visited castle in Japan…however, most of it was under reconstruction when they got there, so they didn’t get pictures of all it’s glory! (That being said, we will be returning!)
The following day, Nick and I switched places…I worked and he was Kenneth’s tour guide. They did a bunch of site-seeing in Tokyo...
Just before saying Sayonara to Kenneth, we all took a train to Yokohama for one last tourist stop!
We had a great time with our friend when he was here! (Though we were exhausted from all the traveling!) Beautiful weather made for great touring! It was the perfect time of year to have a visitor…there were GORGEOUS Fall leaves galore, in rich shades of yellow, orange and red! The sun was shining, yet there was a delightful chill in the air that made walking around manageable (kept the sweat at bay)! We had many coffees to keep our energy going and lots of Sake at night, celebrating the true Japanese way!
Thanks Pope for coming out to our part of the World, and letting us show you around our new home!