Monday saw me return to Nara. Despite having spent a full day there when Allison was here, there were a few things I still needed to tick off my list, so another trip was necessary to do so. I was also feeling a strong desire to get out of The hustle and bustle of grey old Osaka for a day and see some greenery and the delightful deer that wander around freely in Nara are always an added bonus. They are so elegantly beautiful and always bring a smile to my face.
I had been wanting to pay a visit to Harushika Sake Brewery, but as I had not eaten yet that morning, I decided to hunt down a cafe that I had heard of that doubles as an art space. After walking past it a couple of times I finally found it. What an awesome space. I wonder whether it is used to its full potential in its current location, but good on the owner for setting it up as a space for young artists to have a chance to show their work. I have to say I ate what was possibly the most delicious vegetarian curry that I have ever had - and as I was once a vegetarian for 17 years, that is a pretty big call - it even had avocado in it... Who would've thought to put that in a curry?
With food in my belly, I headed off to find the sake brewery, wandering some beautiful backstreets of Nara and stopping to admire the history and architecture of places along the way. On arrival at Harushika Brewery, I paid a mere 400yen, allowing me to participate in the sake tasting where o got to try 6 different types of sake - including what was described as 'the Master Brewer's "secret sake", as well as a parilla/shiso flavoured sake which was actually quite delicious. After the tasting was over, I was presented with a complimentary choko and headed off to go a mingle with the deer and see the famous giant buddha at Todai-ji. Despite having been to Nara at least 3 times in the past, I was still yet to see the one attraction that 95% of tourists come to Nara to see. I was glad I chose to do so this time. Despite the hoards of school groups and other tourists, both Japanese and foreigners, it really was quite spectacular to see.
I was about to head back to Osaka when I changed my mind and direction at the last minute and just as I started walking in the opposite direction, I was stopped by a group of six Japanese school kids, (3 girls and 3 boys), who wanted to know if they could ask me a few questions. I, of course, agreed, as it was for a school project. The questions were very basic, including "is this your first visit to Nara?" and when I answered "no" they kind of all looked at each other blankly, I suppose they were expecting me to say yes, so for a brief moment they all looked a little unsure as to what to ask next. They did have a list of questions in their exercise books however, so I was asked a few more predictable questions like where I was from, how I like Japan, what my 3 favourite Japanese foods are... When the questionnaire was done, one of the girls asked me to write my name and a message in her exercise book and one of the boys asked if I would have my photo taken with them. With that, he stopped a passing stranger and passed him a camera. So here's me, looking like the ridiculous tourist, making a peace sign in between 3 girls and 3 boys in their adorable school uniforms, (also making peace signs)... but hopefully I helped them to complete their school project!
After consuming a little more sake and admiring a few more deer, I headed back to Osaka where I finished the day with a huge bowl of good old fashioned ramen - (accompanied, of course, by some good old fashioned gyoza).
I must make mention of the lovely exhibition by Japanese artist, Eri Moon, that I went to with my friend John on Sunday night at Ands Tartines Gallery. I got to catch up with some recent aquaintences, as well as meet some new and lovely people.