I want to get my thoughts down, but knowing that I want to post this on the ‘blog’ is giving me writer’s block. I’m staying in a minshuku (like a hostel) in historic Nara. It’s a 100-year old home that originally belonged to a tea master. The walls are mostly shoji screens and the floors and remaining structure are wood. Creaky wood. There is a beautiful courtyard garden that I am sitting near. I have my tea and trying to get some words down before meeting Kato-san who will take me on a tour of Nara’s temples and shrines.
I’ll have to return to talking about Osaka later, but have to tell you about last night. I arrived in Nara around noon, dropped my bag here at the guest house and proceeded to the gardens in Nara. After catching the light from the dropping sun hit the 5-storied pagoda I returned to check in formally to the guest house. It was very busy. I’m staying in a very narrow, very dark female dorm room. I only met one of the women staying there. Her name is Yuriko. I thought she had already taken off for dinner when I had finally gathered my things and left, but as I stopped to take a photo of the entrance (will post later) she came out behind me. I pulled my gregarious American stunt again and attached myself as a dinner companion. Yuriko is in Nara for a 3-day osteopathy training course. She lives in Tokyo, but earlier had lived for 20 years in Los Angeles. We sped off to try to see a temple she wanted to see before it closed but we were too late. For dinner we found a whole hidden line of restaurants that weren’t visible from the street we were on. We stopped at a little yakitori counter and sat down next to a woman who had been there for some time. She was initially very polite (spoke no english) and turned downright chummy. I wish I knew her name but by the end of the evening she was ordering me duck from a nearby restaurant and instructing me to be careful as I was traveling on my own (the feeling here is the Japan is getting more dangerous). She’d been drinking shochu and said she liked this restaurant because they would serve her a drink at lunch and not discriminate. Yuriko had to translate most of the time, but I did try out my Japanese a little (with Yuriko’s encouragement). My neighbor could understand me, but I was at a loss with her responses. I did find out she was 60, and had 8 grandchildren.
When Yuriko and I got back to the guesthouse we sat down for some tea. We were shortly joined by a couple (Guillaume and Sonia) who are on the 1st anniversary/honeymoon trip from Marseille (well, Sonia is originally from Italy), and Martin from London. I’m still jet-lagged so only lasted for an hour or so before heading up to bed.
I’m off to find breakfast now before heading out to meet Kato-san, a person (recommended by a friend) who has kindly agreed to show me around the sights of Nara.