Saturday morning of the trip everyone woke up, got dressed, and our coordinators took us on a bus to a train station in Nara. From there, we went to the middle of the city (which wasn’t a really big city) to begin our day.
After telling us what we could do, giving us maps, and letting us go, there was something all of us noticed immediately. There were deer everywhere in this town.
When I mean everywhere, I mean EVERYWHERE. They’re wild deer that take up as much of the town as humans do. The deer are basically everywhere you go. In the parks, crossing the streets, in the temples. It’s really cool. There are signs everywhere telling you to be careful of them:
But for the most part they’re pretty friendly and there are little carts everywhere to buy treats for them so you can feed them.
After our infatuation with the deer, my friends and I headed to Todaji temple up the street, which is a Buddhist Temple known for its giant wooden architecture and Buddha statue. The Temple was burned down in the past, so the rebuilt wooden temple (finished in 1709) is actually 30% smaller than the original building built back in 745.
The Front Gates:
Some nature inside the gates:
The main Temple:
The Giant Wooden buddha statue:
Metal lotus petals that were detailed and surrounded the Buddha
Bodhisattvas that surrounded the Buddha:
After the Temple, our coordinators took us back on another train towards Osaka. A few years ago there was a Japanese comedian from Osaka who went to Tokyo and would go to random people, make his hand in the shape of a gun, and go “BANG”. Most people from Tokyo would just stare at him strangely and then walk away. Then he went to Osaka and did the same thing. Most of the reactions he got in Osaka were people dramatically pretending as though they’ve been shot. So, my friends and I wanted to test this theory. As soon as we got out of the station, we had the urge to try it. As we looked over our shoulders, two hosts were walking towards us with flyers. As soon as they approached us, I turned around quickly and went, “BANG”. The first one, the curly haired one, looked kind of confused, and then quickly keeled over acting as though I had just shot him. It was the greatest thing ever. Afterwards, we talked to them for a little bit and they handed us flyers for a party going on at their club for the club’s anniversary. We never went, but I did get this picture with them.
After all of the, my friends and I headed down a main street in look for Okonomiyaki and Takoyaki, two of Osaka’s most popular dishes. We found a restaurant that looked good and ordered a meal of shared okonomiyaki and takoyaki.
Lunch ended and my friends and I headed to another train station to look for places to spend the rest of our day. We were on the look out for the “Floating sky garden” and the “Hep Ferris Wheel”. What we found was a German-styled christmas festival type of thing.
Here is the nativity scene at the festival. Coins were tossed to the baby Jesus.
Some of the little food shops that sold German food and sweets:
Conveniently, the floating sky garden was located directly over the German festival, so my friend and I headed up to the top of the towers where the Garden was located. We were expecting an actual Garden, but instead it was an area at the top of these two giant buildings where we could look over the whole city of Osaka. The view was amazing and absolutely breathtaking, even if it was cloudy.
There was an area in side where couples could buy engraved locks, and then they took their locks to this area where they could basically “lock their love”. I loved the idea. I thought it was really cute.
We even saw a wedding party at the top of the floating sky garden taking pictures. Both the bride and the groom were beautiful. But it was also incredibly cold at the top and neither of them were wearing jackets.
When we got down from the Floating Sky Garden, our objective was to get to the “Hep” Ferris Wheel, which is famous in Osaka city. On our way we saw these two performers:
I didn’t get any pictures from the Ferris Wheel, but it was pretty awesome. Overall, I loved Osaka. The people were very warm and friendly, and there were couples everywhere! much more PDA then you would see in Tokyo.
After a long day, my friends and I met back up with our coordinators where they took us to a “ryokan”, or a traditional Japanese hotel for the night. This is what my friends and my room looked like:
There was an onsen at the ryokan along with yukatas that you could put on after the onsen. We all had a traditional Japanese dinner with some crazy karaoke right afterwards. After dinner and karaoke, my friends and I came back to our room to find everything put away and our futons pulled out and set up. We hit the onsen one more time and then came back and collapsed on our futons for the night.