Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Japan: Five Years Revisited

Five years ago I lived in Takaoka, Japan. How frickin' crazy is that? I feel like I've lived several lifetimes since then, but five years ago really isn't that long ago. But whatevs. I do miss my rockin' mullet, though.

In the five years since I left I haven't spent more than a few hours in Japan at a time.  There have been a few occasions where I have a long layover in Narita and I leave the airport to go visit Narita City.  Last Friday was one of those occasions.

Japan Rail runs right out of Narita Airport and Narita City is the first stop after you get on.  Trains leave the airport every hour at about the top of the hour at exactly the time specified on the schedule.  A round trip ticket is 480 Yen, which I had got from of an ATM machine just outside customs and immigration.

One could just wander around Narita City for a few hours, maybe holed up at a sushi-ya throwing back a few Asahi and sampling some endangered species.  Another option is to walk about half a mile to visit Naritasan Temple.  Finding the temple is easy.  When you walk out of the station, turn left down the one way street with all the shops and keep walking until you see the temple.

Along the street are a number of shops and restaurants.  At 9:15 AM not much is going on.  I guess the breakfast scene isn't all that big in Narita.

There is a chinese medicine shop along the left hand side just before the temple that sells all sorts of animals products and by-products banned by international treaties.  Poor sex life got you down?  How about some ground-up tiger penis?

I learned during my time in Japan that there are Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples.  Naritasan is a temple, so that makes it Buddhist.  Or something like that.

In front of the temple are various stone steles and engraved statues and lanterns.  There is a small pond with some turtles.  A big rock in the middle is shaped like a turtle, too.  Just past the first two structures of the temple is a steep staircase.

And at the top you are greeted by the main structure of the temple.  If you wait around long enough you'll likely see some ceremony.  I didn't see one this time, but if memory serves me correct a big thing about this temple is fire and smoke -- but it's been a while and my memory is hazy from too many night's drinking Bud Lite on Saipan.

Last Friday there wasn't a cloud in the sky above Narita and it made for some great photo taking.  My photos don't capture it, but the lines and angles and textures found throughout the temple grounds are really interesting.  Maybe when I'm in my 60's I'll spend my days photographing Japanese temples.  This seems to be a common hobby among Japan's retirees.

I still haven't been to Japan to see the cherry blossoms.  There were some blooms, but I think these are plum trees, ume (oo-may), in Japanese.

For centuries, perhaps millenia, Japanese artists have tried to capture the essence of the spring blossoms.  Here is my 13 second attempt with my canon point and shoot.

One day I'll get there at just the right time.  I always seem to be just a bit too early or just a bit too late.

The last time I walked around Naritasan Temple I could hear a waterfall.  I actually found it on this trip.

And this is getting kind of long and I really don't have too much else to say, so here are a few more pictures:

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