Uncle Mike, Nara and Kyoto

Trip Start Nov 08, 2003
Trip End Nov 08, 2004

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Friday, January 23, 2004

Headed out to pick up Mike at about 7am (23rd) as I didn't want to be late picking him up at the airport. Also had to re-arrange some of my flights whilst I was there, going to Hong Kong and Tokyo earlier than planned now, need some warmth before it runs out in Oz.
Thankfully, he arrived on time so it was a cushty pick-up, headed straight home to drop off his gear and to introduce him to Simon. They hadn't seen each other since about 1978ish! I guess it's almost like two strangers meeting for the first time now that it's been that long. After a bit of a chat and a cuppa, Simon headed off to work and Mike and I headed out into Osaka. We hit the city centre and headed down to the Tsutenkaku Tower which I have given some history about previously. We actually headed up it this time which i hadn't done previously. It gives you a very good view over the city and I could see many of the places I had been to on the bike. Mike was jet-lagged to the maximum so I don't think he was up to much. However, we then headed over to Shitennoji Temple via The Temple Isshinji which looked like a theatre on the inside but the outside was covered with tens of golden statues which looked quite cool.

Mike was then shattered by this time so we chipped back and hit the vino as I cooked Spag Bol, a cornerstone for any traditional first night meal in Japan... i thought. Strangely enough i have yet to learn the cooking ways of Japanese cuisine, additionally i was far from going out to catch some fresh fish to then dice it up into some raw niceties! He then took in an early night as I watched a film and crashed out too.

The next day (24th), Mike wanted to head over to the Aquarium. I had figured that during the few weeks of my stay in Osaka, I would be doing certain things twice with Mike coming to stay. Luckily we managed to do things that I actually didn't mind seeing twice, the aquarium was one of them. Unfortunately though it was a Saturday, so we had to battle off about 8 gzillion screaming kids. It was still enjoyable though and got some better pics this time and some good footage of the manta ray doing back flips. We then chipped over to a complex close by for some food. Had some Doria which is quite a sweet (unfortunately) rice dish. I can only refer to it as Frankfurters and rice pudding. However, i was hungry, and it went down well with the beer.

The evening, it was Saturday, and was a night on the town. Fortunately, my uncle Mike is quite the alcoholic so he fitted in beautifully!! I am of course kidding, but he can certainly knock back the wine. We met up with Dave and Taku at the Kirin Plaza and then went over to the Yakiniku joint where you cook your own food on the stove in the middle of the table. We were meeting some of Taku's work friends there. After lots of fried meats, beef, tongue, pork etc and errr a handful of beers, we headed off to a bar to finish the night off. As we were leaving, they played an ATJazz song which I couldn't believe. ATJazz (Martin) is a friend of mine from Derby that writes/produces the best Jazzy/Hiphop/Funk-assed beats known to man. He did apparently sell quite a few albums over here so I guess it stands to reason that some bars will play them. The albums about 7 years old though. Anyway...

Woke up quite early today (25th) as we were supposed to be meeting up with Chica and Emmie to go over to Nara. It then started snowing so we debated a while and then still decided to go. Nara was the capital of Japan prior to Kyoto and is home to many temples and parkland. No surprise there then.

The first stop, Kofuku-Ji temple, we checked out a treasure hall/museum called Kofuku-Ji Kokuhokan. This held many statues and buddha heads of the ancients and a very large buddha statue of lacquered wood and then gold plated.

Nara also holds the record for the largest wooden building in the world, Todaiji Temple, and it was BIG! The grounds of the temple are filled with a mass of nutty deer that jump you at the sight of cookies. They also eat maps, gloves and all sorts of crap you offer them without realising it.

The monster of a temple and sculpted buddha's inside were the best I've seen so far in any of the countries visited. The enormity of it all was awesome. There was a hole in one of the temple columns where people were squeezing through. This is supposedly the same size as the main buddhas nostril (just to give you some idea on how big the buddha was). Apparently, if you can squeeze your body through the hole, then you were permitted to enter the afterlife paradise or something. Me and my fat ass (i'm referring to the donkey i was taking for a walk) were not even attempting to make fools of ourselves, although nothing normally stops me.

Did a bit of walking around Nara city centre and stopped for coffees then decided to train it home.

The 26th, Simon went down with a major cold, so we left our guide for the day curled up in bed. Damn, now i had to be the guide and didn't know my way around. Got to Kyoto and thankfully Simon had directed us to a underground station that I recognised so I could get my bearings. We saw on the map that the Kyoto Imperial Palace was quite close so we headed off by foot, only to find that to get in you had to apply for a permit, that's a permit not a pay at the counter ticket, from the central office, i mean orifice, in the middle of Kyoto. I was a tad miffed to say the least, still we headed off in the direction of the three temples, one of which i had been to previously but it was worth a second look for the day time view. Also checked out a bit of the city centre and the old style traditional streets, by which time, we were both done in.

The 27th, we decided to go over to the Osaka Maritime Museum. It was quite good viewing but not that good reading to be honest, haven't quite got the Kanji translation vibe yet. It was basically an overview of what Osaka used to look like in the past and how it used to operate with imports/exports etc. After this we decided to have a look round Cosmosquare where the World Trade Centre is. Not much happening here so grabbed some food and headed back.

The 28th was Mike's last day and we simply spent it looking at Parks which was cool. Headed up to Osaka Castle to begin with, didn't go into the castle this time as I had told Mike that it wasn't the original so he wasn't interested. Then took the underground down to Shitennoji Park where you had to pay 150 Yen to get in, bit wierd i thought but turned out to be well worth it. Very nice park even in the winter. Mike constantly wanted to eat Japanese stylee when he was here so on his last day we had Carbonara pasta for lunch and Thai curry for tea...

The 29th was an early wake up, up at 6.30 and waving goodbye to Mike at 7.30. He has since arrived safely home which is cool, it was good getting to know him again.
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