Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Last Day in Japan

I'm almost fully caught up! We will soon be returning to our regularly scheduled knitting content, I promise. Just one last post about our final day in Japan, and then it's back to reality.

So Monday the 17th was our last day in Japan. We were to fly out the following day, and even though our flight was only at 5:00 PM, we would be spending most of the day on the trains getting back to the airport, so we couldn't really do any sightseeing.

Despite the fact that there was still much to see in Kyoto, we decided to take the train to Nara, another "must see" stop in our guide book (and an ancient capital city of Japan), about an hour outside Kyoto.

After stopping at the local tourist information counter to pick up a map of the city (they even had a French map! And the lady at the counter gave us French directions! Very cool), we walked out to Nara Park, where most of the sites are concentrated. Our first stop was the Kofuku-Ji temple and it's five-story pagoda, and the nearby Nara National Museum, which has a lovely collection of Buddhist art.From there we walked out to the Kasuga Taisha sanctuary, which houses about 3000 stone lanterns in a really beautiful, peaceful setting. Phil really loved those lanterns (he wanted to bring one back as a souvenir!), so it was definitely something we had to see.I should also mention that Nara is famous for it's deer, which roam around freely in the park, cruising for handouts from the tourists. There are vendors selling biscuits set up all over the park, but we had suspected that their prices would be ridiculous (and we were right! 1000 yen (roughly 10$) for 5 biscuits!), so we had picked up some Ritz crackers at a convenience store on the way. They were pretty domesticated, though not too keen on being petted. Mostly they just wanted the food :) I drew the line at getting them ice cream, though.From the sanctuary, we hiked up one of the main paths and stopped at another temple (whose name escapes me right now, and I can't find my guide book.) where the Shunie festival (a Spring ceremony where priests swing long flaming torches in the air over a crowd of onlookers to ward off evil) takes place each March (we just missed it). It was quite beautiful, and boasted a spectacular view.Our last stop was the Todai-Ji temple, the largest wooden structure in the world, which houses the Daibutsu-Den, a massive, 16 meter bronze Buddha statue. We had been told that this was a MAJOR tourist spot, that there would be crushing crowds and that it was highly commercialized. It seems, however, that our timing was perfect, because there really weren't many people at all, and we were able to visit this awesome sight completely at our leisure.We figured this was a good way to end our trip (really, how were we going to top THAT?), so we headed back to Kyoto to have dinner and pack up for our long day's journey the next day. Our train to Tokyo was at 9:29 AM. From there, we took the Narita Express at about 1:00 PM to the airport, which put us at Narita an hour later (ample time before our 5:00 PM flight to Vancouver). Except for a major scare, when I realized that I had left my travel wallet (and passport!!!) in the train (fortunately, I ran back in and retrieved it before it left the station), the trip went smoothly. We arrived home on Tuesday, the 18th, at 11:30 PM local time, tired but happy to be home.

I think it's pretty obvious that I had a grand time in Japan. It was truly the trip of a lifetime, during which I got to have many experiences and travel on my own quite a bit, which is something I didn't think I would ever be able to do. I wouldn't have been able to do any of those things had it not been for my father and stepmother Margot stepping in and taking care of the kids. I'm truly grateful to Dad and Margot for taking such excellent care of them and the house while we were away. I know it wasn't easy (taking care of infants is a little more labour intensive than babysitting a 9 year old, after all), there was snow (understatement!!!) and slips and falls and all sorts of stuff. But they were always patient and loving and wonderful with the kids, and I just can't say thank you enough. Thanks so much, Dad and Margot. You're the best. :)

Next post, I'll reveal my Tokyo yarn-crawl booty! Stay tuned! :)

4 comments:

Jennifer said...

Hehehe.

You said booty.

:)

Sereknitty said...

Thanks for sharing your journey through Japan with us ... I'm looking forward to seeing your yarn haul!

Knit & Purl Mama said...

Thanks for sharing your trip! Looks like you had a really good time! Glad we kicked your arse into going?

Mrhide said...

*sigh*