Autumn (Tokyo Studio)

Rittou: Earth begins to freeze/ buckwheat kernels form (3 of 5)

November 16th, 2008

Rittou 8 of 15We rose early and emerged from our generic Osakan hotel in Umeda to catch the 08:18 limited express to Nara to meet our guides for the day. Mr. and Mrs. Oe are the parents of Yuki-san, my Japanese tutor in Wollongong. The Oes moved from busy Osaka to the quiet countryside of the neighbouring Mie-ken upon retirement. Armed with highlighted maps and English guides, Mr. and Mrs. Oe met us at the train station at 09:30 ready for a day of exploring this former capital.

Nara is mostly known for its status as the first permanent capital of Japan. The banner outside the prefecture government office proudly declares: ‘Celebrating 1300 years since capital relocation’ (that is away from Nara to Kyoto). The size of Nara makes the city very walkable. A brisk stroll took us past the Chinese style three-storey pagoda and the five-storey pagoda, Naramachi – the once thriving local market streets of the city with many its original machiya (merchant houses) now occupied by local art and craft stores…, markets, malls, wagashiya (Japanese sweet shops – one puts on a good show of mochi-making), okonomiyaki restaurants (Mr. and Mrs. Oe took us to the best one), Tōdaiji (temple)- the biggest wooden structure in the world, and Kasuga Grand Jinga – the Fujiwara family shrine (the most powerful family of the Heinan era).

The last two World Heritage sites are located in Nara Kōen (park)- home to the revered Jika (Japanese deers). Once considered to be the devine messengers of of the Shinto Kami-sama, the sacred Jika(s) continue to demand their due from mortals. Luckily, deer biscuits are readily available from street vendors for only 150 yen.

7 Responses to “Rittou: Earth begins to freeze/ buckwheat kernels form (3 of 5)”

  1. 1 Lucas
    November 22nd, 2008 at 10:15 am

    I don’t really know what to say except that I really want a postcard of this hilarious picture of Redmond feeding the deers, and I know if I leave a comment here, I am likely to receive one!

    Mr and Mrs Oe sound nice. Do they ever visit Wollongong. I imagine you could take them on the leech walk. Local equivalent of “feeding the deers”.

  2. 2 jolaw
    November 22nd, 2008 at 10:40 am

    Mrs. Oe saw our fascination with the deers and bought us the deer food. I fed them as well but only had one or two takers. As soon as I gave the rest of the food to Redmond, the deers just mobbed him. (The one he seemed to be remonstrating with here was actually nibbling on his jumper.) He is popular with the creatures.

    The Oes visited Wollongong just recently to see their daughter – my teacher, Yuki-san. They also went hiking around Uluru and Alice Springs. The energy and stamina of the over-60s here never ceases to amaze me – not like those sleepy youngsters who are always napping on the train!

  3. 3 Greg
    November 26th, 2008 at 10:30 am

    Long time reader first time commenting. I also hear that if comments are made snail mail cards may be given. I am torn between the highlights of Redmond being mobbed by deer or his efforts to fly a kite, he has proved to be a great subject for the project either way.

    It’s an ironic coincidence. Deer have made there way into Wollongong city. One poor little guy caused havoc with traffic and closed down a construction site, consequently being mobbed by humans (police, the press and spectators). Said deers fate was the complete opposite of the ones you have featured here, and has sparked up the debate about there right to existence in the Wollongong region… again.

    Looks like you guys have had an awesome, inspirational and creative experience. Looking forward to seeing you both in Oz again soon.

  4. 4 jolaw
    November 26th, 2008 at 11:02 am

    Great to hear from you, long time reader. The deers are native to Japan and are naturally venerated here. I wonder whether a native kangaroo would cause nearly as much of a fuss in Wollongong. Afterall, isn’t that the type of image we want to give tourists – Kangaroos bouncing down the road?

    Postcards are still going until December 3rd!

  5. 5 redmond
    November 26th, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    Effort…? What do you mean – effort!?

  6. 6 Greg
    November 28th, 2008 at 4:23 am

    Redmond, by effort I meant effortlessness, skill, agility, style and grace!

  7. 7 jolaw
    November 28th, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    That is definitely Redmond’s luk. (As in “D’you mind? That’s my luk.”)