Preparing to meet Budda
Part of the preparation for going into the Todaiji Temple in Nara is to cleanse yourself with the lighting of incense and the moving around of the perfumed smoke. After that, you can go into the temple to greet the largest bronze Budda in the world at a height of 63 feet. Very beautiful (see extra) and very inspiring. The altar in front of the Budda is a full size altar to give you some idea of the size.
The trip to Nara was an extra for us on this trip and ten of us chose to go in two Jumbo taxis, chauffeured by two immensely polite and caring young men who tried very hard to speak English with us and to tell us about what we were experiencing. And they drove our taxis in immaculate uniforms with white gloves.
Nara was well worth the visit - we could have easily spent the whole day there and we don't really understand why it wasn't included in our trip.
Tonight we have had our last Japanese meal, yes more raw fish for me and vegetarian for Rob. Not our favourite food I'm afraid, but the beauty of the presentation was a joy to behold. We were also entertained by a Maiko (Trainee Geiko/Geisha) who danced for us and then engaged us very intelligently and charmingly in conversation with the help of our tour guide translating. Of course, the art of conversation is part of her training and she really was a charming 18 year old. I had an interesting conversation with her about her decision to undertake the training and what her hopes for the future would be.
So, we start the long journey home very early tomorrow, hoping for a blip somewhere en route. This has been a fascinating holiday and I hope you have been able to share some of the emotions and experiences with me. This is a beautiful place and the people are incredibly welcoming, gentle and kind.