GIRLS ARE FUN, TOO
A visit to Kyoto wouldn't be
complete without a short train ride to Nara
to feed the deer. I relate this junket to girls - not to boys, as in Kyoto.
I'm in a routine. Arriving at the Kintetsu-Nara
Station with an escalator ride to street level, I wander through the nearby
arcade with its many colorful shops. This leads to a small valley to cross to
get to the Nara Hotel just in time for lunch.
As I stop under the hotel's portico, I'm always impressed how
handsome this building is - a western design with strong Japanese overtones -
or is it the other way around? The dining room - there's a grill downstairs
that looks like any other - is impressive with high ceilings, wood paneling and
windows overlooking a garden. The food is good, too.
After lunch, it's a beautiful walk through Nara
Park and on to Deer Park. I occasionally see deer on the
outskirts of the park, but they now surround me in great number. While I always
buy cookies for them, there are never enough to go around. The friendly fellows
gently butt for more attention and even thrust their noses into my pockets.
But the deer are not the only ones surrounding me. Somehow, a
foreigner - always a man - attracts school girls. All dressed in middies and
skirts, you're overwhelmed with questions. You American?
You like Japan?
Do you have deer at home? Can we take your picture? If I write you a letter,
will you answer? These and many more friendly inquiries continue, but the deer
don't mind. They're still asking for more to eat.
I pass through the Nandaimon Gate on my
way to the magnificent Todaiji Temple;
the deer and the girls have mysteriously disappeared. The temple is the largest
wooden building in the world; as I enter the walled inner court, it is even
more imposing. At the top of the wide stairs, I see a wooden figure ... arms
folded, color faded. It's the Nara Daibutso, also
known as The Great Baddha of Nara. Built in 752, it's
over fifty feet tall and is a national treasure.
As I walk down the road to the railroad station to return to Kyoto, I think everyone
in the world should have the experience I just had.