Up early this morning, no particular reason but just felt like getting up and about. Had a great hot shower and spent an hour or two writing to people before the ladies awoke. Said a sad farewell to Gojo Guest House and made our way to the train station where we had to say an even sadder farewell to Sarah who heads back to Tokyo for her flight to NYC on Saturday. Sanj and I carried on to Nara which is only about 40 minutes south of Kyoto. Definitely getting the feel of a country becoming more and more relaxed and suburban though by no means rural as we move further away from Tokyo. Once we had disposed of our bags we headed for the Nara parklands which contain about as many temples as you could handle in a day, many more deer than you would imagine, countless numbers of stone lanterns and finally one very very large buddha. The temples were their usual beautiful selves but the buddha definitely stole the show. Really amazing how something so large can also be so tranquil and peaceful. Funny to watch the kids crawling through one of the wooden beams which is apparently the size of the Buddha's nostril and safe passage apparently ensures access to heaven. From here we went up into the hills to a beautiful temple absolutely overrun with lamps of all descriptions most of them held in stone lanterns covered in moss. Sadly the festival for lighting all these lamps appears to be next happening in September which is probably just a bit too long for us to wait.
Travelled back into town and enjoyed my first Japanese burger at Mos Burger. Definitely a different take on the classic but no less enjoyable for it. Having booked tonights ryokan on the basis of the cheapest I could find I was a bit apprehensive but I really should not have worried. Upon arrival three lovely elderly staff explained all our bathing options and took us to a wonderful room with a balcony overlooking the 5 tiered pagoda. Needless to say, Sanj has immediately got her tripod out to capture its glory and I am making use of the wireless internet to get this blog up and running. Very much looking forward to my traditional meal and bathing this evening, this is undoubtedly the way traveling is meant to be.n