Still no time to upload photos. ^^;; But here's part 2 of "the short version":
- off to Nara in the morning
- we walked through Nara Park to Todaiji (東大寺), home of the world's largest wooden building (大仏殿) which houses the world's largest Buddha (大仏)
- on the way there and back we saw many deer
- 2 memorable deer incidents: 1) a woman bought some deer food but only gave a little bit to the deer; then she put the rest in her bag; the deer reared up on its hindlegs and kicked at her (luckily it struck her bag and not her body) trying to get the food--scary!; 2) Justin had a map of Nara in his pocket; a deer stuck its head in his pocket and grabbed the map; Justin noticed and rescued it, but not before the deer took a bite out of the map--hilarious! LESSON: believe everything you read in the guidebooks about Nara deer!
- we had MOS Burger for lunch and slowly wandered back to the station (stopping to shop for souvenirs, etc. along the way)
- then it was back to Osaka for some shopping!
- we hit the Uniqlo at Shinsaibashi as well as various other random shops along that arcade
- we ate dinner at an izakaya style restaurant, plus had crepes for dessert before we headed back to the hotel
- checked out of the Osaka hotel and took the train to Hiroshima first thing in the morning
- it was raining when we got there (around 10:30am) so we got streetcar passes
- dropped our stuff off at the hotel then went to the A-Bomb Dome (原爆ドーム) and wandered around the Peace Memorial Park (平和記念公園)before entering the Peace Memorial Museum (平和記念資料館)
- after that it was back to the hotel to check in and have a bit of a rest before heading to Sankanou (三冠王), which is probably my favourite restaurant in all of Japan!! (I will try to write more about Sankanou later!)
- we headed to Miyajima first thing in the morning
- our first stop was the world's largest rice scoop (大杓子)
- Syv and I had agemomijimanju (揚げもみじまんじゅう--deep fried maple leaf shaped buns)
- then we took pictures of the Itsukushima Shrine and Gate (厳島神社・鳥居)
- we were shrine/temple'd out from Kyoto, though, so we didn't go inside; instead we headed to Momijidani Koen 紅葉谷公園 to begin our hike to the top of Mt. Misen (弥山)
- it was a long slow hike (mostly because we had to stop fairly frequently for breaks since I'm so ridiculously out of shape), so the ice cream we bought from the observatory at the top was especially delicious...
- we took the ropeway back down and had lunch; Jen and I shared anago musubi (conger eel rice balls) and a set lunch with kaki (oysters) on rice, plus zaru soba and some Japanese pickles
- then it was souvenir shopping time! I got kaki senbei (oyster flavoured rice crackers) for my students, and momiji manju with various fillings (red bean, custard, chocolate, etc.) for the teachers at Kirita and my office
- I also gave into temptation and had not one, but TWO soft serve ice creams: one was yuzu peel flavoured, and the other was white peach served in fried bread instead of a cone!
- then it was back to Hiroshima to catch the Carps' (Hiroshima's professional baseball team) game against the Tokyo Giants (they lost, but we had a good time cheering; and the Carp Udon was delicious!)
And that was pretty much the end of the trip--for me, anyway; Syv, Justin, and Jen still had half a day in Tokyo to kill. ^_^ The schedule was pretty hectic so I was quite tired at the end of it all. But it was totally worth all the time and money!