Our first stop today was he Todai-Ji Temple (the Great Eastern Temple), an old Buddhist temple located in Nara. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Quite impressive. My mom prayed some more (she's Buddhist) and we walked around the surrounding park trying to avoid the hundreds of deer there. (They were quite aggressive ... don't carry food when you come here! That being said, I managed to buy some sweet yams and stuff them in my mouth before the deer knew what was happening). We had a beautiful Kyoto-style lunch - which was more about beauty and delicacy than taste ... it wasn't bad, just sort of bland. After lunch, we had some free time to explore Nara Park - which was quite lovely - tons of people were holding spots under trees to view the sakura bloom - quite a quaint tradition, really.
Our dinner location!
We also came upon a real wedding - lovely. We then headed to Nijo Castle
- where the Tokugawa shogunate were headquartered. This is where they had the "nightingale" floors which squeaked so the shogun was always aware of people approaching. (I used to watch a japanese tv show called "Shadow Warriors" or "Hattori Hanzo" - and this castle was often showcased in the show - kind of cool for me...). Afterwards, we headed to Gion
and had another Kyoto specialty - Fried pork with Kyoto cabbage salad. It was so wonderful - so much better than anything I've had in the U.S. Afterwards, we shopped and explored the surrounding area - quaint alleyways and tiny boutiques. (One boutique only sold rabbit items - soooo cute!). We also walked along a famous street known for geisha - but we didn't see any. We checked into the Prince Hotel
- one of my favorite hotels on the tour. (Random note - my mom adored the ToTo toilet - I'm thinking of installing them when I get a house ... or if I get a house considering prices in LA are still super high).