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Picture Postcard: A Visit to Kyoto, Osaka, and Nara

Anthony Bourdain once made the comparison: if Tokyo is Japan’s face, Osaka is Japan’s heart. I don’t know enough about either city to confirm this, but somehow, that feels pretty right.

I went to Osaka, Kyoto and Nara a few months ago to eat, shop, and check out some of the shrines and temples I’d heard so much about. Here are a few shots from my recent trip to the West side of the island.

Fushimi Inari Shrine (伏見稲荷大社, Fushimi Inari Taisha)

Fushimi Inari Shrine (伏見稲荷大社, Fushimi Inari Taisha

Komainu are shrine dogs–  these are the fox version that guard Inari shrines… (they’re everywhere!)

 komainu

Way Out

Kyoto alley… Kyoto alley

Bunnies! Found on the ground in a Kyoto alley. (My favorite photo from the trip!)

Bunnies in Kyoto Osaka Osaka madness.

takoyaki Nara Man

When you think Nara… you think deer. People fed and pet them like house pets, but I was scared of them…

Nara deer

Mostly, because of signs like this:

nara deer warning Nara Buddha

Also: when you think of Nara, you think of the the Daibutsu (大仏) at the  Tōdai-ji, Eastern Great Temple (東大寺). Such a lumbering, peaceful fellow. After the deer attack (maybe I exaggerate…) I saw him and just gazed and gazed.

Some fun facts about the Daibutsu.

  • Height: 14.98 m (49.1 ft)
  • Face: 5.33 m (17.5 ft)
  • Eyes: 1.02 m (3.3 ft)
  • Nose: 0.5 m (1.6 ft)
  • Ears: 2.54 m (8.3 ft)
  • He weighs 500 tons!

Though I wasn’t there very long, my impression of the West side is that it’s just more relaxed. A little more open. A little wider in space and mindset. There are so many places I want to visit I don’t know how I’m going to see them all, but the mini-holidays around the island are showing me the countless ways of life in Japan. Now the question is: where should I go next?

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