22nd March – Osaka (NARA)/Japan 
What a wonderful welcome from the people of Osaka. Many, and I mean many, had come to the port to welcome the 
Queen Elizabeth cruise ship, her passengers and crew. People on the streets welcomed us and there were banners
on the lamp posts and hanging in the raiway announcing our arrival and welcoming us. There was an atmosphere
of friendliness all around us. JAPAN is a really safe country to travel in. Absolutely no need to worry about crime.
The only problem is the language, so you really have to us sign language a lot and keep smiling! English ist he only
language which some people speak a little bit of. The Japanese people are very polite people, so it is advised to use
some of their customs. When handing you a piece of paper or a document or even your credit card, they always do
this, as in China, with two hands. It is polite to receive it with two hands. When they bow their heads slightly showing
their thanks, it is adviseabe to do the same, consequently acknowledging their traditions and customs. Also it is
good to learn how to say „Thank you“. This usually brings a smile to the receiver´s face.
NEW ADVENTURES – As mentioned - after visiting Tokyio, we had decided we were not seeing enough of the history 
and culture of Japan which we had come a long way to do. An independant overland tour seemed the ideal way to
do this again.
It  was possible to spend two nights away from the ship and catch up again in HIROSHIMA. 
We left the ship at approx. 9.0 am heading for the railway station. That was not at all difficult, neither was it difficult
to buy a ticket to get to Nara. There was a man at the train station waiting to help all foreign visitors and although
his English was nearly zero, everyone had maps and plans in their hands and he was able to give directions, train
times and help us put our money into the machines to get train tickets.
Nara, the roots of Japanese culture. We arrived in Nara at 10.20 am. Inspite of the fact that Japan is not  a cheap 
country, the train was not expensive. We took the JR train which is a local service. The train journey took us approx.
50 minutes. Nara and Kyoto were the most important stops for us because they have some of the most important
history of Japan. Our first destination was the ancient city of Nara which took us 6 1/2 hours to cover a 5 km
historical route. It was very interesting. On arrival we saw the famous deer that roam the park and streets freely.
Deer in Nara - According to the legendary history of Kasuga Shrine, a mythological god Takemikazuchi arrived in
Nara on a white deer to guard the newly built capital. Since then the deer have been regarded as heavenly animals,
protecting the city and the country.

Tame sika deer (also known as spotted deer or Japanese deer), roam through the town, especially in Nara Park. Snack vendors sell "shika sembei“ (deer biscuits) to visitors at a charge of 150 Yen (US$ 1,50) so they can feed the deer. If you bow to the deer, especially in Nara Park, the deer will bow to you. They may even bow without being bowed to. We saw it, and it is definately worth observing. In 2005 there were about 1,200 sika deer in Nara. We saw them all over Nara wherever we went

The sites we saw included the Tödai-Ji Temple which is a famous  Buddhist tempel and home to the huge and 
most famous bronze Budda statue. It is the largest Budda statue world wide.
The wooden buidling is also the largest of its kind world wide. Tödai-Ji Temple was built  in the Nara period, 
710 – 794AD at the command of Emperor Shomu (724-749). This temple serves both as a place of prayer but also
as a center of Buddhist doctrinal research. The famous statue of Vairocana Buddha is made from cast bronze, which
was then plated with gold. The statue was consecrated in 752 AD, but has been damaged and repaired several times
over the centuries. The current wooden building „Great Wooden Hall“ enclosing the statue, is the third building and
was built in the Edo period 81615-1867) the two previous buildings had been burned down in wars in 1180 and
1567. The cuurent wooden building is only 33% oft he original building, is however, the largest wooden building in
the world.
The Buddha is 15 meters tall, and weighs 54 tons. We spent 6 ½ walking through this ancient city and were able to 
see many wonderful buildings
Nara is the capital city of Nara Prefecture located in the Kansai Region of Japan. The city occupies the northern part 
of Nara Prefecture, bordering Kyoto Prefecture. There are specifically eight temples, shrines and ruins in Nara along
with the Heija Palace and the Kasugayama Primeval Forest, which
collectively form the Historic Monuments of
Ancient Nara and are a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site.

History: Nara was the capital of Japan from 710 to 784. During this period the framework of national government was consolidated and Nara enjoyed great prosperity, emerging as the fountainhead of Japanese culture. The city's historic monuments, Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines and the excavated remains of the great Imperial Palace provide a vivid picture of life in the Japanese capital in the 8th century, a period of profound political and cultural change.

The temples of Nara, known collectively as the Nanto Schichi Daiji,  remained powerful even beyond the move of the political capital to Heian-kay in 794, thus giving Nara a synonym of Nanto (The southern Capital) . In 2010, Nara celebrated the 1,300th anniversary of its ascension as Japan's imperial capitalAs of 2005, the city has an estimated population of 373,189 and a population density of 1,348 persons per km2.

 Railways: Using the JR Train is relatively easy and not expensive. (JR – Japanese Railway)
Our tour to Nara was most educating – now we were looking forward to KYOTO!  At 5 pm we took a break in the
Nara park before taking the train to Kyoto where we arrived at our hotel at 19,3o (7 pm.)
Our hotel was the New Miyako Hotel, which we had been recommended to take by the tourist  information office. 
The price for a double room with breakfast was 150.000 yen - 150 US$. After checking in we quickly dropped off
our backpacks and made our way back out of our hotel heading for the Kyoto Tower which is very famous. Kyoto tower
ist he first tower in the world to adopt a monocoque structure, in which steel plates are joined into a cyclinder without
using iron frames. The tower was designed with safety in mind to withstand typhoons and earthquakes.
The elegant figure is designed in the shape of a lighthouse and ist he highest construction in the city , rising 131
meters (430 feet) above the ground.
Peter stayed behind and waited for me while I went up to the top to take some photos. Now very tured, we made
our way to a small restaurant near our hotel and grabbed a take-away and headed for our hotel where we needed to
do some homework for the next day.
I booked a hotel via booking.com for Hiroshima for the next evening and we checked out some information to see 
what we would visit the next day in this imperial city. By 22.30 (10.30 pm) we were fast asleep!