Japan – A Familiar Place, Temples Abound, A Brief Stop and A Town By The Inland Sea

Wednesday, 11 May 2016.

Back in Nara, the deer did indeed bite and also kick, which I happened to witness as a small boy was kicked to the ground as he was trying to feed a twig to a deer. I rushed over as the deer rose on its hind legs and kicked the boy right in the chest, him crying, and picked him up, carrying him over to his startled father. The boy was not hurt but the shock must have been enough to shatter his view on the cuteness of deer. Poor kid, I hope he turns out alright when grows up.

Following Nara, I spent four days in Osaka. On two of those days, I explored the city by bike and, during my explorations, I sensed a similarity to the city and that of my home city of Cape Town. The familiarity was there in the curve of the streets, the western influence in architecture and the laid-back attitude of its townsmen.

Kyoto, to the north of Osaka, was next on my route. Famous temples are found scattered around this former capital of Japan, with an old district of the Geisha, close to where I stayed, amidst narrow streets of ancient origin and street vendors and shops selling their local delicacies and souvenirs. I only had two days in Kyoto and could not fully appreciate the city and its past, although the Fushimi Inari Shrine with its multitude of torii gates winding up along the mountain was quite a sensory and historical experience, but I would be back in a few weeks time to discover more this renowned capital of old.

The esteemed castle city of Himeji quickly followed Kyoto, but only spending a day there I could only explore the magnificent castle itself before having to leave again the next day. Okayama was spent in a similar way, arriving there by local train, along with a fellow traveller, a Frenchman, who I had met in Himeji, and explored the renowned black castle, the only such coloured castle in all of Japan, before heading off again the next day on my journey towards the south of Japan.

The coastal town of Onomichi is my next stop, again only for a day, wherefrom I will cycle along the Setouchi Shimanami Kaido highway, connected by many small islands, to the smallest of the four main islands of Japan called Shikoku. I especially looked forward to this part of my journey, and besides it having rained for the last three days, the weather should be clear and I will have a sunny and rainless day of cycling across the Inland Sea of Japan.

– Starr