Archive for July, 2006

Nara – Todaiji Temple: Kyon

Cute little Kyon giving death glare'

I went to Nara a few days ago with the intention to visit Todaiji Temple. Unfortunately the weather was not that good and as a result, the photographs have this overcast look to them. Still, it could be worse. The rain has been falling rather heavily in the past few days so the fact that I only got an overcast sky was a blessing in disguise.

The first thing that I saw when I arrived at the entrance were a bunch of Kyon (Deers). These creatures are amazing. They are really cute but I would not try pissing off one of them. As you can see on the picture above, that little guy was giving me the death glare for taking his picture while he’s trying to rest. Or maybe he was thinking “How dare you taking pictures of my kind while we are having private licking session“. Nevertheless, I didn’t care and continued taking pictures while maintaining a rather safe distance.

5 stories Pagoda5 stories PagodaTodaiji temple entranceLion StatueQuiet temple5 stories Pagoda

After I got satisfied taking pictures of these animals in various compromising positions, I decided to aim my intrusive camera towards the 5 stories pagoda. Unfortunately a bunch of tourist were sitting in the area and despite my attempt to give them the glare from hell, they would not move from the area. Back then I realized what those deers must felt when I took their pictures. As a result, the angle of the pagoda that I like the most contains shots of these attention-seeking exhibitionist. Oh well, it’s not like my composition skill was that good to begin with.

I then decided to move away from the pagoda and head towards a nearby temple. There was two lion-like statue guarding the temple which are actually pretty creepy up-close. Or maybe I just felt that way because because I was the only person who entered the temple ground and took pictures of the statue. I hope the temple wasn’t run by Oyashiro-sama. Still though, it felt amazing to be there surrounded by all the quietness. Although I always like to take a trip down to Akihabara, I think I like this kind of trip a lot better.

The Torii gate leading to the templeAss kissingThere should be a ninja perching on that roof

After the temple, I made my way towards the main ground of Todaiji temple. Before I arrived there though, I noticed this wall where I thought it looks similar to one of those places where Ninjas usually are spotted. Yeah I know it sounds silly but that’s what I thought when I first saw it and I couldn’t help myself from taking pictures of it. Anyway, although the Pagoda and the rest of Nara park are free, you are actually required to pay 500 Yen to enter the Daibutsuden (the Great Buddha temple).

When I visited the place that day, there were many school kids on excursion so it was rather busy to say the least. Unfortunately, I’ll have to end this mini article for now but I’ll continue this soon with pictures of the great Buddha and some ‘exciting’ statistical numbers about the statue itself. The pictures are quite dark though since there wasn’t any light inside the temple itself so don’t hope for an awesome shot of the Buddha himself. Having said that, there will be more pictures of When Deers attack.

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Food outlets

Pepper Lunch

In general, Japan seems to be obsessed with food. Almost everyday, one can see a variety program whereby the host will dine on sumptuous meal created by different chef from different restaurant. I also get the impression that Japan has some of the best cooks in the world since I haven’t had any bad-tasting food while I’m here. Prior coming to Tokyo, I’ve always heard that foods are expensive in Tokyo but I think this is an exaggeration. I don’t think it’s anymore expensive than foods in other big cities such as New York, Sydney, and is actually a lot cheaper than London. If you know where to go, you can actually taste some good food here. Failing that, you can always go to Supermarket and get yourself either some Fresh ingredients, if you have cooking equipments. If you don’t have access to cooking equipment, go to combine and get some pre-cooked foods ready to be heated in a microwave. After all, a large Onigiri (riceball) won’t cost you more than 150 Yen. Anyway, what I’ll list below are some of my favorite food outlets. They’re mostly just for my own reference but I hope you can find some use for it.

Pepper Lunch

Pepper Lunch (addendum 13/06/10): Pepper Lunch is now available in Sydney – LOL) serves quality cut grilled beef on top of rice and vegetables. In order to order food from this place, you have to use the nearby vending machine and choose the kind of dish that you’d like to eat. After paying the price, the machine will produce a ticket that you must hand in to the waitress. The price of the meals ranges from 680 Yen to around 1050 Yen depending on the quality of the meat that you choose. Anyway, after handing in the ticket to the waitress, she will usually give you a ticket for free soft drink, which you can use the next time you visit the place. Back then, however, I had to be content with a glass of water while waiting for 2-3 minutes for my food. Once the waiting is over, you’ll be presented with sizzling and only half-cooked meat and veggies on top of a hotplate. If you want, the waitress will cook the meat for you. However, it’s a lot more fun to cook them yourself and add your own sauce, etc. You can find Pepper Lunch outlet on almost every big city in Japan, especially inside the train station. If you’re in Tokyo, however, Akihabara has at least two of these outlets.

Pepper LunchSoba UdonSoba Udon

Soba Udon

Judging from its name, it’s not hard to guess that Soba Udon serves well, Soba and Udon. This place, however, is good because it provides some cheap food for those who don’t have the budget to spend too much. For only 200 Yen, you can get a cold Soba with a sauce and an additional 100 Yen can get you a Kakiage (Fried vegetable tempura). I don’t know about other people’s stomach capacity but in my opinion the portion that they gave to me was quite generous and I was both full and satisfied with the quality of the food. Of course if you have the money, you can always order the more expensive dish such as Curry Udon. Just like other eateries, you’ll usually get a glass of water free and you can refill it as much as you want. You order the food through vending machine and hand in the ticket to the waitress as usual. Although if I remember correctly, you have to tell the waitress yourself if you want a kakiage to go with your cold soba and pay the 100 Yen to her. Soba Udon can be found in various Tokyo station. There is one underneath the Ueno station.

Omosubi Gonbee/Omosubi Honnori

These two are basically food outlets selling Omusubi (Onigiri/riceball) using the finest ingredients you can find in Japan. You can read more about Omosubi Gonbee here. I really like Onigiri although the one one can get from the combini is usually not the best quality ones. Gonbee and Honnori, on the other hand, are two places that I usually go to if I want some good Onigiri. They have a wide range of selection from Fish roe to tuna to chicken. However, because they use the best ingredients available, the price of their Onigiri tends to be more expensive in comparison to the ones you can get from a combini. For example, a typical Onigiri from a combini won’t set you back more than 150 Yen while the one from these outlets can cost you up to 200 Yen. However, I think it’s worth it to give it a try from time to time. And these Omosubi/Onigiri are very filling so most people don’t need more than two Onigiri if this is all that they intend to have for lunch. Onigiri is also perfect as a light breakfast when consumed with Takuan (pickled daikon) during breakfast.

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