Kofukuji Temple and it's 5-story pagoda were the first things I saw as I began my stroll around Nara Park. The pagoda, which was originally built in 730 AD, was restored in 1426, and is the 2nd tallest in Japan at about 167 feet in height.
While walking toward the Kasuga Taisha Shrine, I met a 20-year old young man from Taiwan who was traveling by himself. He asked me to take some photos of himself with the deer and we became friends for the day. He is Christian and we discussed our respective religions as we toured the sites in Nara together. The shrine is in the middle of a beautiful forest, and is surrounded by thousands of gorgeous lanterns. We didn't go into the shine, but just walked through the forest. The area was absolutely stunning!
Hsiao Yung Peng, my new "forever friend" (that is literally what his Chinese last name means) and I visited the Nara Museum, where I was only allowed to take a couple of outdoor photos, and then we headed to town toward our respective return train stations.
Following my map to the station, I noticed a "burial mound" site and wondered if the Japanese bury their dead the same way as Koreans. You know how much I love the burial mounds throughout the Korean peninsula - truly one of my favorite things about Korea! Bob says I'm just a little morbid, but I do love cemeteries. What I saw was not really what I expected, but it was nonetheless, very interesting.
Jack took us to a Chinese restaurant for dinner that night and the following morning we boarded the bullet train back to Tokyo. It was a clear day, and I was really hoping for a glimpse of Mt. Fuji, the nearly symmetrical and tallest mountain in Japan. At nearly 12,400 feet in height, the active volcano is an impressive landmark. But as we approached it's location near Tokyo, clouds again shrouded our view. Jack kindly shared with us a couple of photos he had taken from the train on a previous trip.
This is as close as I got to "being there"!