東大寺

An hour on a train put us in Japan's first capital, Nara. It boasts the largest wooden structure in the world, Toudaiji (東大寺Great East Temple), and is also famous for the deer that casually walk its streets. I have so many photos of how cute, sweet, and hungry these deer are, but there's really only one photo I want to share. It's by far my favorite of them.

I'd spent time at Toudaiji before and seen the great Buddha statue it housed, but I hadn't passed much time wandering around in the nearby park. As always, water makes for good photos.

We did make our way over to that great wooden building though. Here it is, followed by a shot of my family in front of one of its monstrous doors to give a bit of perspective on its size. Inside is a giant statue of Buddha, the Daibutsu (大仏 - literally "great Buddha" ).

 

 手巻き寿司

Halfway between Nara and Kyoto lies a little town called Seika-chou (精華町), where my Japanese family lives. On our train ride back from Nara we stopped over at Seika and my two families got to meet at last. We ate delicious temaki-zushi, hand rolled sushi. Essentially, my host mom had cut up lots of different fish, meats, and veggies into bite-sized chunks and laid them out on the table along with two large bowls of rice and palm-sized squares of seaweed. Everyone picks up the seaweed, puts on rice, whatever toppings they want, and throws it down the hatch. Finger foods are always a fun way to get to know each other.

Nellie had gotten there a few hours before us to have a talk with my host mother and to help her with dinner preparations. She and I got to enjoy the job of translating between the families. While my host mother understands English quite while, she doesn't feel nearly as comfortable speaking it. One of the topics of discussion became the hundreds of years old sake bowls that the Iwai's had been passing down through their generations. My mother got them out, showed them to the gang, and even had some sake to try drinking out of them with.

After our dinner fun, we presumably went back to the hotel and slept. There's then a four day gap in my photo. I know at least one day of that was Osaka, and it wasn't much longer that we took Jenn back to Tokyo and changed our base of operations.